sunshine & self doubt: facing summer body insecurities with an ostomy

sunshine & self doubt: facing summer body insecurities with an ostomy

Summer brings visions of carefree days basking in the sun, picnics and holidays, but it can also be a time of heightened body anxiety as we naturally reveal more of our bodies than in winter months. Then for those with an ostomy, this body anxiety can become a much bigger issue. The switch to lighter, more revealing clothing can trigger insecurities about being able to confidently conceal the ostomy pouche.

Let's face it, ostomy pouches aren't exactly beachwear chic. The constant battle between comfort, practicality, and wanting to feel confident in your body can be a real struggle. Of course for some ostomates, the need to conceal the pouch at all times is not a concern but we are all different and the majority prefer, at least some of the time to have discretion about pouch visibility.

Here's a look at some common summer insecurities people with ostomies might experience:

  • Leak Anxiety: The fear of a leak in hot weather is a major concern. Sweating can loosen the adhesive, and the thought of a malfunction amidst a summer outing can be paralyzing.
  • Body Image Issues: Summer is a time for showing off our bodies, and an ostomy pouch can feel like a constant reminder of what's "different" about you. Feeling self-conscious in swimsuits or shorts, wondering if others are staring or judging is very a very common experience.
  • Missing Out on Activities: The worry about leaks or pouch visibility might lead some to avoid activities like swimming, beach volleyball, or poolside lounging altogether. The fear of drawing unwanted attention can restrict  enjoyment of summer fun and the freedoms that warmer weather offers most people.

So, what can we do to overcome these summer insecurities?

  • Embrace Supportive Styles: The good news is, there are a variety of ostomy pouch covers and swimwear specifically designed for comfort and discretion. Explore these options and find styles that make you feel confident and cool. These gorgeous stylish waterproof pouch covers by Ostique could become your summer buddy. You can find high quality ostomy swimwear here thats really supportive to keep your pouch secure when swimming and the high waist completely covers the pouch.  Watch the video here
  • Focus on Function over Fashion: While looking good is a confidence booster, prioritize comfort and functionality in your summer wardrobe. Choose breathable fabrics that move with your body and maybe for extra confidence try a waistband underneath to ensure nothing is on show. An extra bonus is the waistbands are perfect for intimacy too ;-) 
  • Open Communication is Key: Don't be afraid to talk to close friends or family about your concerns. Having a support system who understands your insecurities can be a huge help.
  • Celebrate Your Strength: Having an ostomy doesn't diminish your ability to enjoy summer. Remember, your ostomy is a sign of your strength and resilience. You have come through more challenges than most could even imagine and that makes you a warrior. Focus on the fun activities you can do with confidence and if needs be, walk away from the activities that cause you anxiety right now, there may come a time when you feel ready to try them and if not that's OK. Be kind to yourself .

Let's delve a little deeper into the psychology behind these insecurities 

The Body Image Impact of Ostomy Surgery:

An ostomy surgery, while life-saving, can significantly alter your physical appearance. This change can disrupt our body image, the mental picture we have of ourselves. Here's how this disruption can manifest:

  • Loss of Control: An ostomy pouch represents a constant reminder of a bodily function no longer fully under our control. This can lead to feelings of vulnerability and a disconnect from your own body. It can even present as a form of grief for the loss of a primal function.
  • Social Comparison and the "Ideal" Body: Summer is a time for social gatherings, and the pressure to conform to societal beauty standards can be immense especially in the world we live in with so much social media sharing. You might compare yourself to others with "perfect" bodies, leading to feelings of inadequacy and increased self-consciousness about yur ostomy.
  • Grief and Acceptance: The initial adjustment to an ostomy can involve a grieving process for the body we once had. Accepting the new normal takes time, and summer's emphasis on physical appearance can resurface these emotions.

Strategies for Building Body Confidence:

  • Reframing the Narrative: You ostomy is a testament to your strength and resilience. It's a badge of honor for overcoming medical challenges. Shifting the focus from what you perceive as a flaw to a symbol of your journey can be empowering.
  • Challenge Negative Self-Talk: Negative thoughts about yur bodiy can be yur worst enemy. Practice positive affirmations and focus on the aspects of your body you appreciate.
  • Find Your Tribe: Connecting with other ostomates online or in support groups can be incredibly helpful. Sharing experiences and seeing others thriving with an ostomy can be a powerful confidence booster. 
  • Celebrate What Makes You Unique: Embrace your individuality! Summer fashion offers endless possibilities. Experiment with different styles that flatter your body type and make you feel good.
  • Seek Professional Help: Remember, body image is a complex issue, and healing takes time. If your insecurities are overwhelming, talking to a therapist or counselor can be incredibly beneficial. They can help you develop coping mechanisms and build body confidence.


The Takeaway:

Summer shouldn't be a season of insecurity for those with ostomies. By understanding the psychological roots of body image concerns and implementing these strategies, you can face the sunshine with confidence. Embrace the summer fun, celebrate your strength, and remember, you are worthy of feeling beautiful just the way you are.




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