Tag Archives: ileostomy

Body Image, a rambling post

We live in a world where Victoria’s Secret models are celebrities, Kirstie Alley is called a pig for being overweight, and jeggings are a fashion trend It’s not always a nice place. So, take a young person who is still becoming comfortable with her body, promise her a j-pouch, discover in surgery that she has Crohn’s disease which cannot be treated with a j-pouch, tell her she has a permanent ileostomy when she wakes up, and then let the fun begin.

I know…I’m not very subtle, am I? Yes, I’m talking about myself. But I know there are others who share the story of learning to love their ostomy when they are young. For me, I was in my mid-twenties when I needed to have surgery. Even the doctors I consulted with before surgery acted like I would want a j-pouch over an ileostomy. I was convinced that having an external appliance was the worst possible outcome. But I learned the lesson that I have NO control over certain things, and woke up with an ileostomy. I’ve come to accept and embrace it. I certainly am much healthier because of it. I’ll never forget when I woke up from having my surgery, I said I actually felt better and my dad said with a smile “It’s amazing what removing a diseased organ can do.”

At any rate, in my teens and twenties, I was always very modest about my body. I would prefer to wear baggy t-shirts that didn’t show off my curves. If anything was slightly snug (which usually meant it fit), I would feel very self conscious. Were people looking at my chest? Is this too tight? I wouldn’t want to draw any attention to myself. Heaven forbid.

Then, to suddenly have an ileostomy in my mid-twenties, well….you can imagine what that does to one’s self image. I wish in the hospital instead of teaching me how to take care of the appliance, they also taught me how to take care of my self-image. I was repulsed with the appliance and felt like it was the end of the world. I would have welcomed any tips about what to wear, how to feel confident, anything. Of course, that would come later, but wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there was a program in place that would help me adjust.

It has taken a LONG time, but now in my thirties, I am comfortable with my body, comfortable showing off my curves, and aware of what works on me and what doesn’t. My ileostomy is part of me, and I’m thankful for it since it has helped me be healthy. I still resent looking at a Victoria’s Secret catalog, but not because the models are so gorgeous. No, I resent the fact that I can’t wear a bikini without my ileostomy being obvious. But mostly I resent the fact that I didn’t feel more comfortable with my body at an earlier age.


And the results are…..

So, my hosiery experiment was not exactly a success. Here are the results….


  • Hanes Silk Reflections Non-Control Top in Little Color. Ok…..umm…soo…the color was not ‘little’ enough. They had that horrible orange, suntan look. My husband, who never offers fashion advice unless it is an extreme situation, suggested that I swap them for a different pair. They were that bad.
  • Hue So Silky Sheer in Natural. The color was great, and these seemed sturdy enough to hold up to some decent wear. The only problem, and it was pretty significant, was that the crotch seemed  to fall unusually low. Even though the waistband was pretty high on my abdomen, the crotch was saggy. All day at work I felt like I needed to do odd contortions to make sure it did not fall down! Maybe I had a defective pair or something. I will have to give them another try. But, based on my saggy crotch experience, this brand isn’t for me.
  • Calvin Klein Chiffon Sheer – sheer to waist. Gorgeous color. Perfect fit, though the waistband felt a bit low but still was workable. The only problem was that in one day I managed to run two pairs of these! I mean, come on. Both times it happened when I gave the waistband a tug to try to pull it above my ileostomy. I wasn’t pulling it *that* hard. Honest. But these things seemed to run if you look at them the wrong way.

So, bottom line is that I’m still searching. Perfect pair of pantyhose, where-for-art-thou? In a pinch, I would go with the Calvin Klein’s, though I would be terrified of the plague of a million runs.

Hosiery, Part Deux

Ok…I have an important event coming up this week and pantyhose will certainly be a part of it. However, which type? This weekend I loaded up on some different types of non-control top sheer pantyhose. They are:

1) Hanes Silk Reflections Non-Control Top in Little Color

2) Hue So Silky Sheer in Natural

3) Calvin Klein Chiffon Sheer – sheer to waist

I’m hoping to test out which is the most comfortable (particularly with my ileostomy) AND which actually looks the best. I have pretty pale skin, so it’s tricky to find a ‘natural’ looking shade that isn’t too yellow, too tan, or too white. By the way, a 6 year old cousin once said “you are the whitest person I’ve ever seen”….umm…er…ok. She is from California and all so I guess I’m not like the bronzed beach babes she is so used to.

I’ll let you know what the verdict is!

The Holy Grail: Jeans

Ok, so admittedly it took me a long time to find a pair of jeans that would work well with my ilesotomy. The unfortunate low-rise trend caused me all sorts of issues, since my ileostomy is placed fairly high on my abdomen. I know some people don’t have issues with their pouches appearing well above the waist line, but I seem to be rather…um…prolific in my output and really don’t care for the pouch expanding above tight pants, making my belly look lopsidedly pregnant.

I basically wrote of jeans for the longest time. And those I wore were either uncomfortable or so baggy to give me a high waist line that they did nothing to flatter my figure. And then one day the clouds parted and I heard angels sing and I found the right jeans for me. The ones that work for me are Ralph Lauren jeans. Just the plain old Lauren jeans they have at Macy’s, not the uber expensive type.

And now, thanks to some backlash over the low rise phenomenon, and the realization that women above the age of 15 have more success avoiding the ‘muffin top’ by having pants with a higher waistline that holds them in, there are many more options available! Another angel-singing moment for me was finding Levi’s 512 Perfectly Slimming Jeans. These jeans are awesome! I live in them when I’m not at work. They are firm enough that they hold my appliance in, and yet have enough stretch that they are very comfortable. They also look really sharp. I realize it is still a bit high for a waistband, but I usually don’t tuck on my outer top (I always wear a tank underneath and tuck that in though…it helps compress everything AND helps me avoid flashing my appliance to the world when I pick up my son).

Seriously, if you are looking for jeans, I highly recommend the 512’s.

Fashion and Ostomies. Yes, I’m going there.

It seems to me that the majority of information I’ve been able to find online about ostomies and clothing says one of two things: 1) You can still wear the same things you did before your surgery, or 2) Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing.

I found the first statement to be false (I can’t wear tight, form-fitting dresses without me being totally self-conscious about the outline of my ileostomy), and the second statement to only be applicable to the time right after surgery. There is a happy medium and it is very possible to wear fashionable and body conscious clothing without feeling exposed. I’ve had my ileostomy since I was 26, and now am 38. It’s taken some time, but I have developed an eye for what will work best on me and am still learning new things and having ‘breakthrough’ moments, such as when I discovered the right pair of jeans!

Maybe those of us who have cracked the ostomy fashion code can share tips here? That’s my goal. Or, at the very least, I can chronicle such fascinating discoveries such as which pantyhose work best, for me at least.  There really is such as thing as being ostomy chic, even though I know most of us would never use that label publically. So, why not talk about it here? Please join me.