Stopping the Stigma: Ostomy Bags

I think we have all seen the old commercial by the CDC shaming ostomy users for having an ostomy, claiming them as smelly and messy (when they are not), as a way to deter smokers, but also causing quite an uprise for many people who have ostomies who think differently of them: life saving.


Even some doctors try to use ostomies as a scare tactic for their patients to get them to do what the doctors want. Medical shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, etc. have also shown to enable the stigma surrounding ostomies by portraying the patients as people who would rather kill themselves or die than be forced to live with an ostomy.

Well, from one ostomate to the world I will gladly inform you: It is not that bad. The hardest part about having an ostomy is probably the way people perceive it as gross and smelly. Changing the bags is fairly easy once you get a routine down, if you get your bags on properly, leaks hardly ever happen (I’ve only ever had one public leak), nobody knows you have them if you don’t tell them, and despite what the CDC would like people to think, they do not smell.

Yes, your poop smells, everyone’s poop smells. EVERYONE POOPS. But inside the bag you cannot smell it. Even when I had a leak, the only way I noticed was because I felt wet around the edge of my pants, nobody smelled it or even noticed because my shirt and bag cover were covering the spot on my pants. Also the only time I’ve ever had to use tape on my ostomy was when I had skin irritation from the wrong type of barrier which I happened to be allergic to.

Thousands of people young and old live with ostomies, their lives are made better by them, don’t shame them for that. We shouldn’t have to be embarrassed by the ways in which we have managed to survive. We shouldn’t have to be shamed by medical fields, the CDC, and other people for the device that has saved our lives.

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2 thoughts on “Stopping the Stigma: Ostomy Bags

  1. I remember that commercial, and I had the same reaction. My brother has Ulcerative Colitis and had a total colectomy about 7 years ago. He has the option of having j-pouch surgery, but he’s perfectly happy with his ostomy. His quality of life is so much better since he had it done. My family doesn’t understand his decision, but they also don’t understand IBD in the same way we, the sufferers, do.


    1. Absolutely! All of my family (minus my mom) keeps talking about wanting the doctors to do a reversal and j-pouch surgery ASAP despite my fistulas not being healed yet and even when my fistulas are healed I may not get the surgery because I don’t have to deal with fistulas since I got the ostomy and going back would likely just result in more fistulas. I wish more people could understand that.


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