Jade Hughes, 23, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when she was 17.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease that causes long-term inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If severe enough, surgery is required, explains the Mayo Clinic website. In those cases, after the surgeon removes a portion of the colon, some of the colon is attached outside the body, in a procedure called a colostomy. The surgeon forms a hole, known as a stoma, in the abdominal wall so waste can leave the body. The person attaches a colostomy bag to the stoma to collect the waste.
That’s what happened with Hughes, who lives in Tiverton, Devon, England. And she couldn’t be happier.
"The operation has completely changed my life,” she said. “The bag has given me my life back.”
But when she tried to go swimming at a public pool, she was accused of “scaring” children with her colostomy bag.
A woman approached Hughes, who was wearing a bikini, and began berating her in front of the other swimmers. She pointed to Hughes' colostomy bag and said, “Do you think that’s appropriate for the pool?”
As Hughes explained, “I think I was just stunned and didn’t reply and then she said, ‘Well you know that shouldn’t be on show in pool? It’s not very nice for young children to see.’”
But Hughes took it in stride and put a positive spin on it.
“People will always judge you, always drag you down when your starting to feel really good about yourself,” she says. And she has words of encouragement for others: “Ladies love your body!! Fat, thin, scars, stretch marks, SH-- BAGS! Love your fricken body!!!!!”