It was her “worst nightmare” when it was fitted, but one student is bravely showing off her stoma bag in a sexy lingerie shoot to empower others with the digestive disease.
Lydia Andrew, 21, from Wollaton, Nottingham, struggled to deal with the appearance of her stoma after having her large intestines removed last year.
She suffers from ulcerative colitis, an inflammation of the digestive tract, that left her visiting the bathroom up to 20 times a day and caused chronic fatigue and extreme discomfort.
However being left with a stoma bag saw her fearing nobody would find her attractive, and worrying her peers wouldn’t understand.
"It was quite difficult to get my head around, I had lifesaving surgery but it was a huge taboo to talk about it,” Lydia revealed.
"The stoma bag is holding waste and is not something that's spoken about, having it on your stomach is hugely embarrassing."
After discovering special lingerie to support the bag, Lydia has since embraced her differences.
Lydia was left self-conscious by her stoma bag - but soon discovered lingerie to boost her self esteem. Photo: Caters
Now the multimedia textile design student is determined to show other inflammatory bowel disease survivors they don't need to be embarrassed by their stoma bags either.
"It was my biggest nightmare, everything was going wrong at that time but after seeing Jasmine Stacey Collection underwear online it gave me hope and I volunteered to model for her,” reveals Lydia.
"She makes underwear that are attractive, most other ones I had seen were like 'granny pants' and didn't suit me, nor did I desire any.
"The underwear keeps my stoma bag hidden, even under tight clothes so you know it's not going to be seen and protects it.
"While modelling I wanted to show others the importance of feeling attractive, one of my biggest fears being in my 20s was that no one would find me attractive because of my stoma.
"After doing the shoot we've had so many women and men messaging us, I didn't realising how empowering it would be for people.
"I hope to show others that having a stoma is not the end of the world, I wouldn't say it's the best thing but it's not the worst and has shaped who I am today.
"I want to empower others through my modelling and believe it's probably the best thing I've ever done, it's so important not to let this control your life."
Lydia's stomach pains and frequent bathroom use went misdiagnosed for four years before inflammatory bowel disease was identified.
Lydia suffered for years before having surgery to remove her colon. Photo: Caters
Her symptoms were initially confused for stress as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and anorexia after she lost 10kg.
"I would have to go to the bathroom up to 20 times a day, then I was up all night as well, it was so painful and left me with chronic fatigue,” says Lydia.
"At the beginning, we thought my digestion issues were due to stress during my exams but it continued to get worse.
"One summer I weighed 46kg at my lowest, which was minute for my 5ft 6 frame, you could see all my ribs and it was grim, I'm a small person so it massively dropped off me."
A colonoscopy revealed Lydia had ulcerative colitis and after two years on medications she needed surgery to remove her colon and reroute her intestines to a stoma bag.
After having a subtotal colectomy, she struggled to talk about the stoma until finding other sufferers online.
"I have an amazing medical team and mum who helped me to feel more confident, but ultimately the stoma community were the biggest help,” explains Lydia.
"Speaking to others online who were dealing with similar problems, was liberating and really helped."
Lydia then discovered 'sexy lingerie' specifically designed to support stoma bags from Jasmine Stacey Collection.
Since then she's had a great response from fellow survivors and is now encouraging others to embrace their stomas too.
"During the photoshoot, I felt I was able to set myself free from my fears and insecurities about having a stoma bag,” Lydia explains.
"I think being able to show the stoma in attractive way with beautiful underwear is something that resonates with other people in the stoma community.
"It's the epitome of luxury having a nice pair of underwear that holds the stoma in and keeps it protected.
"Since the shoot a lot of people have told me I'm much more confident, it's made me proud to call myself an IBD warrior."
Lingerie designer Jasmine knows all too well the issues of having a stoma bag - and wanted to help women. Photo: Caters
The collection was made by former nurse Jasmine Stacey, 25, from Bournemouth, Dorset, who designed the range after having a stoma bag herself.
Since starting nearly two years ago, she's helped women to feel empowered and hopes to expand into making lingerie for others with scars too.
"I was amazed at the shoot, Lydia blows me away more than anything, when you meet her she's so kind, passionate and bubbly,” said Jasmine.
"Then when she is modelling all of a sudden she becomes so fierce and powerful it's really amazing to see.
"My collection has given some women enough confidence to feel feminine again and gives them hope that they can feel attractive in underwear.
"My main goal is to empower women with stoma-bags, scars and help them to feel body positive."
- Reporting by Caters News