A makeup artist in the U.K. has become an Internet star after a bikini-clad picture of herself posing with her colostomy bags went viral.
Bethany Townsend, 23, of Worcester, posted the photo online to try to raise awareness about Crohn’s disease.
The photo, which was taken when she and her husband Ian, 33, were on vacation in Mexico, has been viewed by over 9 million people and has received over 200,000 likes since it was posted on the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook page.
The former model says the response to her photo is overwhelming.
“I’m just so glad that it’s brought about more awareness of Crohn’s disease and it’s made me feel so much more confident about the colostomy bags,” Townsend told the Daily Mail. “If I can inspire or help other people in my position to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin then I’m really happy. When I first had the bags fitted I was devastated — the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them.”
According to Life and IBD, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the sufferer’s ability to digest food, distribute nutrients and get rid of waste.
Townsend was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of three.
After numerous surgeries in an attempt to fight the illness, her bowel burst in 2010, forcing her to wear two colostomy bags.
“When I first woke up and my mum told me about them I was just relieved as I'd thought I was going to die,” she said. “I'd known a colostomy bag might have been an option but it was always something that I had wanted to avoid. I had a really good cry that day, and since then I haven't shed another tear — I've just got on with it I suppose.”
It was not until she met Ian and went off to Mexico last Christmas that she finally came to accept her colostomy bags.
“He taught me that there was more to me than the bags and would always encourage me to show off my figure,” she said. “I wasn't sure but in Mexico I finally realised he was right, and decided to wear my bikini. At first I was nervous and worried that people would stare but it was fine.”
Townsend says she is thinking about going back to modeling.
“I feel confident enough now to put myself out there and pursue modelling again,” she said. “I did a little bit of work here and there before I had the colostomy bags, but once I had them fitted I thought that was the end of the dream. I'm looking forward to chasing my goals, and I know now that nothing can hold me back. I won't let the Crohn's control me anymore."
Source: Daily Mail