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Wednesday, August 21, 2013


12:57 PM Posted by Stephanie Horgan , ,

Recently there was a big hub-bub about ostomies in the news. Not an everyday occurrence, right? So I figured I would educate our readers, just in case they hadn't heard about it. As someone currently with an ostomy, I am forever grateful to the life it allows me to live and the freedom it gives me to do all the things I love. Without it, I was miserable, and life is a 180 now. 

Now for the drama: July 5th, the Cincinnati news reported that the local police department was using pictures of people with ostomies to attempt to “scare” teens from gun violence. Their logic was that if we show kids a potential consequence from getting a gunshot wound,  that they might just “think about their lifestyle.”  The kicker was the statement by the Lieutenant office who stated about potential gun violence injuries: "You're not killed, but you're walking around with a colostomy bag and that's just not the way to get a girl's attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag." Outrage from the ostomy community ensued, and rightfully so, as the police department is contributing to the stigma and shame our culture has around bodily functions. In various social media outlets, people in the gastrointestinal community expressed their anger and disgust at the insensitivity of the Cincinnati initiative, and demanded an apology. One brave and beautiful Ostomate’s blog made it to the Huffington Post, reminding people that over 500,000 ostomates in the United States alone. Its something a lot of people are dealing with, but maybe not talking about. Another report on CNN, featured an opinion piece on how the inadvertent discrimination impacts ostomates and the chance for education to our culture as a whole.  

As a way to raise awareness after these articles came out, people started posting pictures of themselves with their ostomy on social media and used hashtags such as #AnOstomyIsNotATragedy and #YouHaveTheRightToRemainSexy. It was a beautiful statement to the world about how people with ostomies can live full, vibrant lives and maintain their attractiveness. 

A Change.org petition was started to demand an apology from the police department as well. And what do you know, with all the attention that it drew, produced action from the police department. A formal apology letter was sent out to ensure that the public knew the Cincinnati police department was truly sorry and would not do it again. 

So what do we have to gain from this? Well, in my opinion, this was a great opportunity to “come out of the closet” to you all, and to a few friends who I don’t talk to about my ostomy. An ostomy can be an unusual conversational topic, but the media coverage was a real help. I hope that we can continue to use these opportunities for educational purposes, in both the online and real worlds we all live in.