5 Inspiring Ostomate Influencers to Follow Right Now
Social media has the immense power to inspire, outrage, motivate, and plant the seeds for entire social movements. These days, nothing gets past social media. Whether we’re dealing with politics, celebrity breakups, or memes, social media is where it starts and ends. Many social media influencers use their positions to gain endorsements and achieve a pseudo-celebrity status for the sake of it. But other influencers, like the five featured on this blog, are using their platform to inspire other fellow ostomates to stand up with pride about their ostomies. If you’re looking for truly inspiring people to follow, check out these brave men and women who wear their ostomy pouches with dignity:
You might recognize the name Jearlean Taylor from a recent CBS News article about her struggles with cancer, growing up with two ostomy bags, and finally finding the strength to be herself as she shares her story. When she was just a young child, Jearlean was diagnosed with a rare form of vaginal cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma. Doctors did not expect the three-year-old to survive chemo, surgeries, and several rounds of radiation. She did, however, make a full recovery minus the use of her bladder and bowels. Since childhood, Jearlean was forced to wear two ostomy bags—a fact that led to bullying and crippling self-esteem. It wasn’t until Jearlean was discovered at a mall and became a successful model that she got a new outlook on life, ostomy, and her own self-worth.
The 51-year-old recently posed for a photo proudly showing off her ostomy pouches—hoping to make other ostomates feel more comfortable wearing their own pouches.
Follow Jearlean on Twitter: @jearleanpgb
Interested in learning more about how ostomy pouches work? Click here!
In 2014, Harriet Williams had her intestine removed when several treatments for her ulcerative colitis were unsuccessful. The procedure worked, and five years later, Harriet no longer has any symptoms of IBD. Making her stoma permanent was her own decision, and after the procedure, it took her a number of years to regain her confidence. Now, you can find her on Instagram showing offer her ostomy bag in her underwear, looking beautiful and poised as ever.
About her decision to show off her ostomy pouches, Harriet says, “It takes a lot of bravery and confidence for people to speak out about their experiences, to show their stomachs or open up about personal issues… I’m very proud to be part of a community trying to break the stigma of stomas.”
Follow Harriet on Instagram: @wheresmyostomy
Ontario native Jessica Grossman is by far unique in her ostomy story, however, it’s one that touches the hearts of many others like her. Diagnosed with Crohn’s at just at eight, Jessica spent years trying different medications and diets. In 2003, after spending most of her life in and out of hospitals, Jessica made the choice to get ostomy surgery. Since then, Jessica’s health has been fully restored and she has since become the founder and spokeswoman for Uncover Ostomy, a popular online website dedicated to spreading awareness of this life-saving surgery and body positivity.
Follow Jessica on Instagram: @jessgrossman
With 182k followers on Instagram and a successful podcast on her resume, Hannah Witton has become a champion in the ostomate community. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at just seven years old, Hannah had an ileostomy in 2018 and soon after, showed off her new ostomy pouch in an Instagram post featuring herself in her underwear with her ostomy bag for all to see. Hannah’s stoma has provided her with a unique perspective, which she has been exploring in her weekly podcast called Doing It. The podcast regularly covers topics of sex, relationships, and the human body. Hosting such an honest and relatable podcast about sex and ostomies has satisfied the curiosities of many non-ostomates, while normalizing sex for those like her.
Gaylyn Henderson made a big splash when she modelled for lingerie brand Aerie wearing her ostomy pouch. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at just 14, Gaylyn resisted the urge to undergo an ileostomy (colon removal) because she struggled to fit in. Terrified of what an ostomy bag would do to her social life and sense of being “normal,” Gaylyn admittedly let her body slowly kill her until she realized that what she was holding on to wasn’t worth the painful suffering. Now, she’s spreading awareness and hoping to encourage other sufferers to embrace their unique bodies and to not be afraid of being different.
Join the Ostomy Community on Instride!
Instride is an online community for ostomates and their family and close friends. Learn more about medical advice and living with ostomy bags from our blog.
Author: Genevieve Methot is a content writer. When she's not writing, she's exploring nature with her dogs, finding the next best horror film, and reading her favourite books over and over again.