Canadian model Sara Levitt is "breaking barriers" once again.
On Thursday, the 29-year-old Montrealer took to Instagram to celebrate a milestone moment for body positivity and inclusion: being the first ostomate featured in Maxim Australia.
Alongside a stunning photo of herself posing in an olive green bikini that showed off her ostomy bag, the self-love advocate penned a heartfelt caption, beaming with pride over her remarkable accomplishment.
"Here she is. My spread in Maxim Australia Magazine. I am overwhelmed with pride and emotion as I share this incredible milestone: the first ostomate to be featured in the pages of Maxim Magazine," she wrote.
An ostomy bag allows for "bodily waste to exit the body in a surgically created stoma into an exterior pouch." Sometimes, an internal pouch can be created through surgery.
Levitt was diagnosed with colitis when she was just three years old. In 2006, her colitis evolved into Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. Two years later, she underwent an emergency seven-hour surgery where two-thirds of her large intestine were removed and she received a colostomy bag.
"This is more than a magazine feature to me; it's a celebration of authenticity and the triumph of self-acceptance with an Ileostomy," she continued. "It's a moment to embrace all I have overcome and fought for, and a time for our ostomy community to see what we can accomplish despite our fears."
Levitt told followers she hid her ostomy bag for 15 years, "but now I do not. I stand unapologetically, authentically me." The model called the journey "challenging and empowering" and said she hopes sharing her story will motivate others to chase their dreams.
"This isn't just about my triumph; it's about my entire IBD and ostomy community and we all strive to advocate for," she wrote.
In the comments, fans applauded and congratulated Levitt on her momentous accomplishment for the Ostomy community.
"Loving this so much for you and our community! You go girly!," An Instagram user wrote.
"Big moves! She's gorgeous and doing the most for our ostomy community. Thank you. Love and appreciate you," commented another.
"Fearless and beautiful inside and out!," Someone chimed in.
"And that’s the ostomy influencer we deserve! Break those barriers, girl," a fan added.
Speaking with Yahoo Canada in November, Levitt recalled her ostomy journey as full of fear, self-doubt and embarrassment before choosing self-acceptance.
An ostomy was always a "last resort" and something she had "pushed off" for as long as possible. But as Levitt's illness worsened, it became "a life or death situation" that changed her relationship with food.
"I was thinking, 'Oh my god, my life is about to change... How am I going to go through life like this?" she said.
While learning to live with an ostomy in the meantime, to her surprise, the Levitt reached a point where she was beginning to feel, "very comfortable with myself."
Now, she "would not give it up for anything, My health and my happiness are the most important," she shared. "The opportunities, the experiences, being able to eat everything that I wasn't able to because I was so sick before... It's all I ever dreamed and wished for when I was sick in the hospital."