Model Poses With Colostomy Bags in Bravest Bikini Pic You'll See (PHOTO)

bethany townsendUsually when I hear about yet another bikini shot posted by a would-be model on Instagram, I just roll my eyes and move on. We wouldn't blame you for doing the same. But this one is different, we promise. Aspiring model Bethany Townsend poses in her bikini with colostomy bags showing in photo after photo on Instagram. When was the last time you saw that? The 23-year-old Townsend has lived with Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, since she was a toddler. In 2010 her bowel ruptured, and she was fitted with two colostomy bags.

It was while on vacation in Mexico that Townsend worked up the courage to get her photo taken in a bikini with her bags visible. Crohn's and Colitis UK shared the picture on their Facebook page, where it got over a million likes.

"When I first had the bags fitted, I was devastated," Townsend told the Daily Mail, but "the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them." She also hopes the photo will inspire other people with Crohn's.


It helps that Townsend's husband, Ian, is incredibly supportive. They met after she was fitted for her bags. She wasted no time in sharing her condition with him when they met, "but he didn't bat an eyelid," she says. Instead, "he taught me that there was more to me than the bags and would always encourage me to show off my figure."

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Townsend gave up her hopes of becoming a model after she was fitted with her colostomy bags. How could she possibly pursue that career, in her condition? But the reaction to her picture has changed her mind. Now a makeup artist, she's considering getting back into modeling again. It could be one more way women are shaking up our usual beauty ideals, just like the model in a wheelchair who hit the fashion runway this spring.

Townsend conforms to traditional beauty standards in many ways, but her illness and its ugly side are a strange, jarring reminder of her difference. You wouldn't blame someone for wanting to hide that difference, but since that first bold photo, Townsend has posted more and more images of herself that way, making her "baggage" less and less shameful every time. I hope other women in her condition find these photos -- and her courage -- inspiring enough to be just as confident.

Would you be brave enough to pose in a bikini if you had colostomy bags?


Images via Bethany Townsend/Instagram; Bethany Townsend/Instagram

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