Tag Archive for: self esteem

By Lynn Wolfson

It is amazing what a boost one can get from dressing to feel and look good, especially those of us with ostomies. I know that when my hair is cut into an easy style that I can maintain, my nails are done and my clothes fit, I feel beautiful. When I feel beautiful, I am happy and share it with the world.

As an ostomy support group leader, I often hear from new ostomates struggling with what to wear after surgery. Many people may have their own style and should explore options to keep wearing the clothing they love. Too many others seem to lose confidence and motivation to dress in the more presentable ways they once did. Overall, I stress to dress so that you feel confident, comfortable, and good about yourself.

So, let us start with the pants. Depending on where the ostomy is located, this will determine whether one would be comfortable with zipper and button pants such as jeans. For me, I find that too restrictive, especially since I have two ostomies. Instead, I prefer either maternity pants, so I have belly room and my legs are not baggy or high elastic-waisted pants. I buy a variety of solid colors of the pants that I find most comfortable.

Unfortunately, men do not have the same choices as women. They should find a brand of pants that are comfortable for them and get them in an array of colors. Stretchable waists can be found on various pants and shorts designs, so don’t feel like you have to resort to athletic wear if you don’t want to.

The tops for women are fun to shop.  I usually get a loose shirt or blouse that goes over the pants. I get multiple tops for each pair of pants so I can mix and match.

Men may still have to tuck their shirts in for business. However casually, they can wear a shirt outside their pants or shorts.

It helps to be beautiful on the outside, especially when I am not physically feeling great.

Since I live in Florida, I only wear pants when it is chilly or when I travel to colder climates.  Personally, I prefer wearing dresses that do not have a waist.  I find them very comfortable and cooler in our hot climate. However, these dresses are not appropriate for business. I do have more tailored dresses without a waistline to wear for business occasions. I generally prefer wearing dresses just below the knee as one of my ostomy bags hangs low.

Shoes should be comfortable. Wear sneakers whenever possible if that’s what you want to do. In Florida, I wear sandals with rubber soles. Up north, boots are a necessity.

Lastly, I get my hair colored and shaped once every six weeks to keep it looking fresh and easy for me to maintain. I also get my nails done every three weeks.

It helps to be beautiful on the outside, especially when I am not physically feeling great. It helps me to get myself going and not have that get back into bed feeling. It is all a matter of attitude!  When I dress for success, I feel good about myself and am successful in getting things done.


Getting to a place where you feel confident in yourself and your new routine might take some time. There are many factors to consider following your ostomy surgery, but there are also many resources available to you while you are adjusting to normal life. Having a thriving social life is not out of the question, and with some time and patience with your body, you will be living your best life.

Beginning Stages

In the beginning, it will be important to keep some sort of a journal or diary as you experiment with new foods and beverages. Figuring out how different foods and beverages affect your body will influence your social life with regards to dining out. It might be helpful to eat smaller meals more often throughout your day as you record what foods tend to cause more gas or which foods are harder for your body to break down. Remember to drink lots of water and chew your food well.

As you move from blander and softer foods to a more regular and high-fiber foods, you will notice more regularity in your bowel movements. Understanding your body’s schedule will be key in planning outings, dates, and events. As you begin to venture out of the house more, remember to bring extra supplies with you and locate the restrooms should you need one with short notice.

Getting Out There

As your confidence builds, and your ostomy becomes routine and normal to you, saying ‘yes’ to more things will become easier and easier. If you were an active person before your surgery, you will be able to resume your active lifestyle. Whether going to the gym, running along the beach, hiking through a forest, or playing a pick-up game of basketball, exercise is key to keeping you mentally, emotionally and physically fit. While you will need to be cautious in the beginning so you can fully heal, there are few limitations on what your body can do with ostomy. If you are having a hard time figuring out what clothing or specific products will help to keep things in place during your activities, Coloplast has put together solutions for a variety of different sports and activities.

Making friends aware of your new ostomy can be intimidating at first. Preparing an informative, concise story to tell people may help ease your mind. Connecting with your friends and family can help you to stay positive and hopeful and will make the transition back to regular life much more manageable. Share as little or as much as you feel comfortable about your ostomy, but keep in mind that talking about it can be beneficial to both parties.

If you are in a romantic relationship, it is likely that your partner is already aware of your surgery and new ostomy. Good communication and honesty about your feelings and your partner’s feelings will be vital to the future of your relationship. It may take time for you to feel ready to be sexually active following your surgery, but exploring this as a couple and in the timing that works best for you will go a long way in helping your relationship succeed.

Meet Others Like You

You are not alone in this new change to your body. There are many people living with an ostomy already out there who are interested in connecting and sharing their stories. It can be helpful to talk to someone who is in a similar situation and who will understand the ups and downs of this new routine. Getting connected to a group or network that shares your story can be radically healing and help with your confidence and self-esteem, not to mention broaden your social network. If you aren’t ready to venture out to a group just yet, you may want to begin by watching and hearing stories from others living with an ostomy to see how they were able to travel, date, go back to work, stay active, and enjoy a healthy sex life.

Whatever stage you are at in your recovery and healing process; if you are adapting to a new routine with your pouching system or working your way to sexual confidence with a partner, know that it is possible. While it may feel daunting to say yes to a date or go out to dinner with a group of friends, with just a little extra planning and the support of others, you can have a thriving social life with an ostomy.


Editor’s note: This article is from one of our digital sponsors, Coloplast. Sponsor support along with donations from readers like you help to maintain our website and the free trusted resources of UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.