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Hello Swim Society lovelies!
I’m Amy & I’m 29 from the UK. Today, I am going to let you into my story & share some of my recent Swim Society open casting experience with you. First, a little about me & my story.
I have had Crohn’s Disease, which is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, since age 7 & I had a lifesaving operation in 2011 which left me with a permanent ileostomy bag & a rather sizable warrior scar on my stomach, bum & little scars to show for it!
I currently run my Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ibdwarriorprincess) to help others voluntarily with their bowel disease, surgery, mental health, body confidence & self love. I aim to help those who have had surgery to become more “stoma confident” and if I can help just one person from my struggles, then those hard times are even more worth it. My main job is in accounts & I also produce health work & content for various health companies in the bowel & stoma world. Social media was a lot less prevalent when I had my surgery and looking back, the support that comes from the online community would have been something that benefitted me hugely in my recovery & would have helped me come on leaps & bounds much quicker.
A permanent ileostomy (a type of stoma - a surgically created opening from the inside of the body to the outside) is where the large intestine (colon), appendix, rectum & anus are removed, and the end of the small intestine is brought out through the stomach to divert waste out the body this way into a medical bag which you can empty. I wear this bag permanently, although I change it everyday and empty it four to five times daily most days. I have no control over when I pass waste and it is usually close to a liquid consistency, so it is this ileostomy bag that allows me to go about my daily life, thankfully without too many problems.
Understandably, having both life saving & body changing surgery is a huge change, both physically & mentally. In 2011, I was 19 when I came out the other side of surgery & although I had it set in my mind that I was going to embrace my body from day 1 in recovery, it’s definitely been a hard mountain to climb, with many stumbles along the way...some larger than others! There have been days where I have wished my ileostomy bag & scars away completely, but then I have reminded myself that this operation literally saved my life. Surgeons found a tumour, the size of a watermelon, attached to my large intestine & surgery was very touch & go. I was told that if it had been left just a matter of hours then chances of survival would have been extremely slim.
When I first discovered Swim Society, I felt immediately empowered by their brand ethos & morals. I love their “no categorisation” & “inclusive by default” mentality & how passionate they are about helping other women to love the skin they’re in, to embrace their differences & actually celebrate the things that make us all so beautifully real & human such as stretch marks, cellulite and curves. I also really admire how much they care about being sustainable with their initiative with More Trees, where for every order, one tree is planted in an area of deforestation. When I saw that there was a chance to be part of the recent Swim Society casting, I just had to enter!
When I got the message to say I had been picked to be one of the 50 to go to the casting for an opportunity to make it to the final 6, I was speechless & so excited. It definitely took a few days to sink in but soon the day arrived where I would travel to London to go to the casting on Oxford Street that evening & meet the most incredible women.
Luckily, I knew of a few of the girls who would be going to the casting, but had never met them before, so this was a great opportunity to meet up with them. I met Charlotte & we headed to the super cute & floral, pink E L & N cafe. We then met up with Sarah & Lottie & soon it was time to head to the casting. Stepping into a room full of strangers has never been my speciality so I definitely felt nervous, but almost immediately I felt so welcomed & free to be myself by the women around me. The atmosphere was so warming, embracing & safe & it was amazing to get to know some of these incredible souls & their stories.
The Swim Society Self Love wall was such a lovely touch, where we all added a self love message over the two days of castings. Just a few of my favourite quotes were:
Meeting Montana & Laura in the individual casting was definitely an experience in its own league & one I'll always treasure. Both of them made me feel so at ease, were so keen to hear about my story & made me feel even more confident in a bikini. I was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing what to wear from the Swim Society range, but Laura helped me to make my decision & I wore the Joann bottom & Mahalia top (see below). I adore the colour, fit & security of this bikini & how much of a goddess I feel when wearing it.
The hours of the casting flew by & soon it was time to head home after an emotional day (in the best way). Days later, I was told that unfortunately I didn’t make the final 6, but what an amazing experience. Thank you to Montana, Laura & Tash for being so lovely, genuine & some of the most supportive, beautiful women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. For the experience alone, I am hugely thankful & I am so, so proud of the girls who made the final 6 and to all the beautiful souls at the castings. You are all literally sunshine in human form. I am excited for the future & continuing to help others in their self love and/or their stoma confidence journeys.
I’ll leave you with my Swim Society Self Love wall quote:
“The best filter you can wear is NONE. Be-unapologetically-YOU-tiful!”
You can read Laura’s blog post here: https://swimsociety.co.uk/blogs/swim-society/swimsocietysearch
Lots of love to you lovelies - Amy (@ibdwarriorprincess) x x x
Amazing story and an amazing woman. You look amazing too.