Funky, fashion-loving Lucy Jane wants to be known for her style...and also for her stoma.
Fashion has been my “thing” ever since I was a child. I’m 23 now, and I’ve always dressed in bright colours and funky clothes. I think colour can put you in a great mood. After all, if the sky is blue, you’re bound to be happier than if it’s gray! And “colourful” sums up my personality. I can appreciate minimalism, but I’ve always been drawn to colour, and my favourites are red and pink (I’m an Aries, and everyone knows red is for Aries). I love orange too, as it’s summery, bright, and warm.
Connecting with people through social media
I followed other fashion bloggers when I was younger and said, “I’m going to be like that one day” – so I started my own blog at age 12. Everything changed with Instagram as people no longer wanted to read long posts but preferred quick updates and pictures. Today, I love bringing people together through my platform @lucyjane.fashion. Social media, and especially Instagram, is brilliant and can be so reassuring.
When I was 17, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and at 19 I had stoma surgery. After my operation, my family was amazing, but what really helped me was going online and finding other people who had been through exactly the same thing. These people became friends who could relate to me and what I was going through.
Gaining the confidence to do what I what I wanted
Getting my stoma gave me a new lease on life. It felt so good to get through the surgery, and once I was on the other side I felt as if I could do anything! That huge boost of confidence allowed me to dress how I liked, with the bright colours reflecting my inner happiness...and it’s also so nice to brighten someone’s day with what you’re wearing.
When I was in college, I started going to the vintage shops in Manchester, UK. I was thinking, “I’m so cool, I’m into vintage now!” But the clothes seemed pretty expensive for what you were actually getting. I’d never bothered with charity shops before but once I started going in them, I realised it was all the same kinds of pieces that you’d find in the vintage stores, but for less money. I also like re-working the clothes I buy; I’m inspired by the past and I add my own twist. It’s like digging for gold! I’ve started a new Facebook group called Lucy Jane’s Charity Shop Boppers and hope to inspire people to explore thrift stores, put together outfits, and wear exactly what they want to wear. Personally, I wouldn’t wear low-waisted trousers, but that has nothing to do with my stoma!
Once on holiday with my mum, I was wearing a small bikini at the beach. A man came up to chat and noticed my stoma...and then said, “Be proud of it, don’t shy away from it!” If I hadn’t been wearing that bikini I wouldn’t have heard his story, because it turned out that he had a stoma too. I gained so much confidence from him.
I’m also into travelling, which is so much fun once you’re not ill and you don’t have to be stuck near a toilet. I say yes to any new opportunities that come up. I’ve only been on short breaks so far, but have found travelling with a stoma fine. My best tip is to take your supplies in your hand luggage!
Realizing that the beauty of a stoma is more than skin deep
When you have a stoma, you need to keep the skin around it clean, healthy, and unbroken. Personally I’ve only had a little soreness before and no big problems, but I know that any issues can affect your confidence. The stoma bag needs to fit really neatly on your skin, and if it doesn’t that’s when things will go wrong.
I use Dansac ostomy pouches because they just feel right. I looked into other brands with different colours and styles, which I’d seen online on other girls, but they felt bulky to me and I didn’t like them as much when I tried them. I just wanted something that stuck to me and didn’t leak, and with Dansac I don’t even feel like I’m wearing a bag. Just try different options and find out what works for you. You have to be comfortable and with the right pouch, since it almost becomes part of your skin.
Letting my heart and soul sing
I remember the summer after my surgery. It was as though I was doing things for the first time, all over again. It all felt new because it felt great; I no longer had to leave places early or worry about finding the toilet as I used to do.
I was out and about again, doing what I wanted – attending festivals, going out with my friends, scouring charity shops for bargains, and enjoying life. Even just going for a walk felt amazing. I had a whole new outlook, and sharing that feels great. It can be so positive – and often really emotional. One girl I met through Instagram, Heather, was worried as she was about to go through her surgery. She asked me loads of questions and I was able to reassure her. I told her what would happen, and that it would all be fine in the end. A little while later, I ran into her unexpectedly at the Parklife music festival in Manchester. We were so happy to see each other that we both started crying! It was so nice to know that I’d been able to really help someone.
One of my favourite bands, Sundara Karma, has a song called Diamond Cutter. There’s a line in it that says, “It wasn’t till I was cut that I could shine” and I love that; it really spoke to me. With all the injections I was having before my surgery, all these little cuts, I thought, “One day I too am going to shine.” Later I even got a diamond tattoo to celebrate my stoma, and the new life that it gave me. My ostomy definitely didn’t break me – it helped make me who I am today!
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