This Woman With Crohn’s Disease Puts It All Out There On Instagram — & Looks Amazing

embedPhoto: Via @bethyt_
Bethany Townsend of Worcester, England, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was three years old. Formerly a model, the 23-year-old is now a makeup artist who's looking to do a second stint in front of the camera. Townsend speaks candidly and confidently about living with Crohn's disease — an illness that requires intensive care and attention. She has even begun documenting her life with Crohn’s on her personal Instagram account; the response (nine million photo views) has been overwhelmingly supportive.
Townsend is calm and casual when speaking about her lifetime of surgeries and close calls, but most people aren’t as open about the inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn's affects the the gastrointestinal tract and can include symptoms such as persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fatigue, constipation, and abdominal pains. After several surgeries to remove sections of her intestines, Townsend was fitted with two colostomy bags on her lower abdomen. Although the bags assist her digestion and bowel movements, they remain a socially stigmatized "accessory."
That’s why Townsend’s courageous decision to post a photo of herself — in a bikini, with her bags in full view — is so important. She’s helping break down the barriers of propriety and shame that prevent many people from talking about Crohn’s. After all, the more you speak honestly about something, the more people will begin to understand it. We’re all for confident women with a story to tell — and we hope we’ll get to watch Townsend go from an Instagram selfie to a magazine cover.

More from Body

The pelvic exam — complete with the stirrups and the speculum — isn't anyone's favorite thing about having a vagina. But it's really important because it's...
A few years ago, two Michigan urologists noticed a curious pattern among their patients: Upon returning from a Disney World vacation, patients would ...
It shouldn't be this complicated, all this body stuff: size discrimination, weight bias, the multi-factioned movement fighting to reverse it. At its core ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
On principle, I am skeptical of any internet health recommendation that has the word “challenge” tacked on to the end of it. These wellness fads come and...
Although he had been dead for decades, Jim Morrison said something a few years ago that shocked people. He wasn’t speaking from beyond the grave, but in ...
In April, I ran a story called “The Medium-Sized Woman Problem.” The “problem,” of course, was not the women themselves, but the way in which we frame ...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
Jill Krause writes about all things mom, parenting, and relationships at her blog, Baby Rabies, and she has some words of advice for the non-pregnant ...
Let me introduce you all to the love of my life, Sienna Harper Gernon! I've never felt love like it! @justchrisgernon thank you so much, you have been...
Ragazzi mi state seguendo in tanti e vorrei ringraziarvi e scusarmi se non riesco a rispondere a tutti...vi proprio ho una foto che mi ricorda tutte ...
Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
Breast-feeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it doesn't always come as naturally as we might assume. And, as one viral photo shows, ...
Last week, Kelly Stanley was breast-feeding her 9-month-old baby during dinner when someone else at her table decided to grab a cloth napkin and try to ...