Monday, October 5, 2009

Exquisite bodies

Recently I discovered the Wellcome Collection on London’s Euston Road. Sir Henry Wellcome built this impressive building in 1932 to house his vast collection of medical related oddments, containing everything from early surgical apparatus to shrunken heads. Henry Wellcome clearly had an eye for the bizarre. I found the male chastity rings particularly eye-watering. As well as its permanent and temporary exhibitions, which are all free, the Wellcome Collection also has a great café and bookshop. It was today, whilst in the café that I noticed the sign for a new exhibition called ‘Exquisite Bodies’. I was just reading the subhead below, and had got as far as ‘Or the curious and grotesque story of…’ when right on cue, well known horse impersonator, Janet Street-Porter cantered into my line of vision blocking my view and giving the sentence a rather apt visual ending. Actually, Janet is quite an impressive woman in the flesh. She must be at least 12 hands high. Seeing the exhibition sign and marveling at the stature of Janet Street-Porter started me thinking about my own exquisite body. And more specifically how the addition of a colostomy bag to my abdomen has made me feel about it. Perhaps surprisingly I’m more or less as happy with my body now as I was before becoming an ostomate. You would think that having a mitten of shit swinging from my belly would have a devastating effect on my self-image, but it hasn’t really. Maybe this is because I’m a hairy-arsed man. I think there’s certainly less pressure on us blokes to look a certain way. I’ve often thought it must be harder for girls who have ostomy bags. Particularly young girls. So as I sat in the Wellcome Collection café, staring at Janet Street-Porter and thinking about all this body image stuff, I was suddenly inspired to share with you a blog I discovered yesterday, which is written by a young lady in Canada, who had an ostomy when she was just 13. Her honesty and bravery will undoubtedly help thousands and thousands of ostomates feel more comfortable with their bodies. This is Jessica.