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Clothes shopping with an ostomy

It’s hard enough to be a woman with all the stereotypes and “expectations” of what our body should look like. It’s even harder when we have an ostomy.

Clothes shopping with an ostomy

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to love yourself (for the first time or again) with an ostomy. From reading other posts, it sounds like many of us have some type of weight issue before and after ostomy surgery. Whether we lost or gained weight.

In my case, I lost weight. I’ve always been slim and before surgery, I weighed 120lbs at 5’7”. Post surgery, I weighed 98lbs (less at one point). Before surgery, I was thin but I was finally comfortable in my skin and body. I finally felt beautiful and good about myself. Growing up, I thought I was too thin. People would make comments about how “skinny” I was. So when I finally gained weight (in college), I felt really good about myself. Then, once I got sick, I started feeling less beautiful. I could see myself losing weight and then it dropped significantly to under 100lbs.

Right after surgery, none of my clothes fit. They were all huge on me. None of my pants or shirts fit. Not even my bras! My breasts disappeared along with the rest of my body fat. It was a very hard adjustment and I was literally skin and bones. I didn’t do a lot of shopping then because I knew I would gain the weight back eventually. I bought a lot of drawstring pants so that I could wear them at any weight. I wore baggy clothes post surgery to hide the ostomy better and really because nothing fit right. Shopping used to be fun and now I dreaded it. It was awful and I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.

It’s been 3 years since my last surgery and I’m probably only 108lbs or so. I haven’t gained a lot of weight back and I’m nowhere near my pre-weight of 120lbs. (I know some of you are clenching your teeth right now at my complaining). However, regardless of how big or small we are, we all have our own issues and thoughts of what is beautiful. I’m not happy at this weight but it’s better than it was and I am healthy and I look healthy.

I finally enjoy shopping again! I’ve found clothes that actually fit me. I’ve always liked tighter clothing to accentuate what curves I have. I like high-waisted pants to help hide the ostomy. I’ve found styles that work best for my ostomy and me. I love patterned pants because they camouflage when the pouch is full. It’s easier to tell with solid pants on. I like shirts with layers, ruffles, or patterns for the same reason. It took me a long time to be comfortable shopping again but now that I’ve found it, it’s been great. I’ve found certain stores and brands that I like best. It’s slightly different than the clothes I used to wear (which is probably a good thing!) but the most important thing is that I feel beautiful wearing it. I wear a lot of dresses and skirts in the summer with patterns and bright colors. I usually wear spandex underneath to tuck the pouch in. Once you feel comfortable in your skin with your ostomy, you’ll feel comfortable shopping again. It takes time and doesn’t happen over night but I believe that it can happen.