colostomy bag, ostomy pouch, ileostomy, uoaa

Inclusive Campaign by Lingerie Retailer Puts Ostomy in the Spotlight

By Ed Pfueller, UOAA

This feels like a moment. For many in the ostomy community seeing that someone with an ostomy has been included as a model, ostomy pouch showing, in a large national retail website was groundbreaking.

The viral #AerieREAL campaign showcased a smiling ostomate alongside other body positive models living with an insulin pump, wheelchair, crutches and conditions such as fibromyalgia and cancer. The brand has long highlighted “real, authentic and unretouched women.” You can find the photos scattered over their product pages.

The model, Gaylyn Henderson, has been sharing her infectious positivity with the ostomy community for years including in a past Ostomy Awareness Day Video produced by UOAA.

Her website Gutless and Glamorous chronicles her life speaking out in support of ostomy and IBD awareness. She was selected for the campaign after submitting a video for an open call for models. Gaylyn has since become a face of the campaign in mainstream media outlets such as People, CNN and Today.

She told Today Style “Having the support of an influential brand like American Eagle to promote positive ostomy awareness has already changed lives, and I know this because of the feedback I am seeing and receiving,” “To have this opportunity is surreal! For Aerie to give me this opportunity, I’m beyond grateful and thankful they would give someone like me a shot.”

The reaction has been uplifting and positive when shared on our Facebook Page and all around the web and social media.

Shaina W This is amazing! I had an ileostomy for 2 years because of ulcerative colitis and seeing this girl model hers with no fear is so incredible. I hope this sort of thing makes it less scary for people to go through this kind of surgery when they need it. I was so scared of how having an ileostomy would change my life that I wouldn’t even consider it for a couple years even though was so sick. This girl is showing how brave and awesome she is and I hope it inspires lots of people. 😃

Avigail V Fabulous! As an ostomate, I’m thrilled to see us represented!

Megan H If you read through the comments everyone has been posting in response, it has been a dialogue game changer! People were asking all sorts of questions (which is exactly what those of us promoting ostomy awareness want and need) and expressing tons of positivity! As the mom of two young kids (a 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son) with ostomies, I am over the moon with this campaign, even if it’s only in viral form, which for some people, is the only way they get their information.

Many people with an ostomy reading this post have probably already had a friend or family outside the ostomy community email you a news link to these photos. And that proves that it is working, and reaching the audience it needs to.

Want to keep up that momentum? Spread ostomy awareness far and wide and invite everyone you know to celebrate World Ostomy Day this year.

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