About the Author: Billie Anderson is a blogger and content creator with Ulcerative Colitis. She uses her platform to normalize having a stoma and spread the word about invisible disability. She has an amazing blog where she talks about all things chronic illness and uses her instagram to share amazing images and vulnerable captions for all of her followers. This is her second post for Intimately and we can't get enough! To learn more about Billie you can check out her Instagram here, and read more of her writing on her blog here!
Who thought it was a good idea to parade through the streets of London wearing nothing but underwear in March?
Me. I thought that was a good idea.
Since sharing my journey living with a stoma online, Ive found a new level of confidence and respect for my body. Before my operation, I would never have the confidence to let people see me in a bikini, let alone getting my body out and walking through central London, cheering and chanting!
I joined the Nunude International Women’s Day 2019 march. There were women of all ages, abilities, sizes and shapes; singing and dancing their way through the streets of London; shouting as loud as they could - all to show the world that we love our bodies! So confident in fact, most of us stripped down to our undies and show it all off to one of the most famous cities in the world!
As well as being pretty cold, it was a very empowering experience. There was music, laughter and smiles all round! I’d gone on my own and didn’t know anyone there but came away learning more about myself and other bodies than I ever thought possible. Everyone had a story to tell and a beautiful reason for being there. My reason goes beyond just that one march.
When I’m clothed, you can’t see my bag. It is an invisible disability and unless you follow me on social media or know me personally, you wouldn’t know that I poo into a bag on my stomach. So to the average passerby, Im a ‘normal’ 23 year old and this can prove problematic for a few reasons. There have been many times when Ive needed to use an accessible toilet after dealing with a bag leak. Ive just been in a pure panic, trying to stop poo from ruining my favourite jeans and praying I have enough spare supplies to let me finish my day clean, and people stop and stare through scoured eyes as I come out. They judge me because when they look at me, they can’t see my bag. They don’t know what Ive been frantically trying to sort out. They think Im an able bodied person using the facility to skip the queue.
So doing this march and every other time I get my bag on show in public or at a photoshoot, it’s to open people’s eyes. To show them that my disability and my condition is still there, even though someone might not be able to see it. You could be sitting next to someone on your morning commute or pass someone in a coffee shop who is dealing with an invisible illness or disability. If it’s one thing this condition has taught me, it’s that you have no idea what someone is going through just by looking at them. So by getting my bagged body out for the International Women’s Day march 2019, it lets people see me. Really see me.