Young Woman's Brave Colostomy Bag Bikini Picture Celebrated By Internet

Kim Easton Smith

One woman has become an internet sensation after posting pictures of herself online in a bikini.

Nothing unusual about that of course, but because of her struggles with Crohn's disease, Bethany Townsend has to wear colostomy bags at all times, which are fully on view in her holiday snaps.

Bethany's bikini shot has caused a stir online
Bethany's bikini shot has caused a stir online

The photo she uploaded is the first time since the bags were fitted two years ago that the 23-year-old has dared to post any sort of revealing shot, despite her dream of being a model.

And it's now been viewed by nine million people and counting, and has had an overwhelmingly positive response.

Bethany said: "I didn't expect this kind of reaction at all. The photo has been seen by millions of people and it's had 190,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook - it's just gone ballistic.

"I'm just so glad that it's brought about more awareness of Crohn's disease and it's made me feel so much more confident about the colostomy bags.

"If I can inspire or help other people in my position to feel a little more comfortable in their own skin then I'm really happy.

Sam Faiers was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease (REX)
Sam Faiers was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease (REX)



Bethany has suffered from Crohn's disease since the age of three. The condition, recently diagnosed for Towie's Sam Faiers, causes inflammation of the digestive system, affecting the sufferer's ability to digest food, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.

After almost dying when her bowel ruptured in 2010, Bethany woke from a life saving operation to find she had been fitted with two colostomy bags.

Bethany said: "Four years ago I woke up in the morning and couldn't move because I was in so much agony.

"I was rushed to intensive care where they doctors told me family I would need more surgery as my intestines had become infected and inflamed again.

"When I first woke up and my mum told me about them [the bags] I was just relieved as I'd thought I was going to die."

"When I came out of hospital and everything finally sunk in, I remember going upstairs into my bedroom and just bursting into tears."

Bethany waiting six months after her holiday to share her snaps (Caters)
Bethany waiting six months after her holiday to share her snaps (Caters)



It was only after Bethany met and married her husband, Ian, 33, and jetted off to Mexico last Christmas that she finally felt ready to embrace the colostomy bags.

Bethany said: "When I met Ian I showed him my bags straight away, but he didn't bat an eye lid - I actually felt like I was over reacting.

"He taught me that there was more to me than the bags and would always encourage me to show off my figure.

"I wasn't sure but in Mexico I finally realised he was right, and decided to wear my bikini.

"At first I was nervous and worried that people would stare but it was fine. I realised that the colostomy bags didn't control me or define who I am."

"I decided to get in touch with Crohn's and Colitis UK Facebook group to see if they would let me post something on their page. I sent them the picture and my information, and it all blew up from there."

Bethany hopes to raise awareness of her condition (Caters)
Bethany hopes to raise awareness of her condition (Caters)



Bethany still suffers with her Crohn's disease and hopes ones day for a cure.

"I feel confident enough now to put myself out there and pursue modelling again," she said. "I did a little bit of work here and there before I had the colostomy bags, but once I had them fitted I thought that was the end of the dream.

"I'm looking forward to chasing my goals, and I know now that nothing can hold me back. I won't let the Crohn's control me anymore."