Krystal Miller is a self-described "bag lady" and chock full of confidence, if her blog and Facebook page are any indication. But she didn't always feel so good in her body.
When Miller was 15, she started to have severe stomach problems. About a year later, after pleading with her doctors to do a scope of her bowels, she found out why. She had Crohn's disease, and it had ripped her digestive tract apart, Miller writes on her blog.
"The doctors tried everything to get my disease under control (for 8 years)," she wrote. "And they now decided the time had come to have surgery. I would become The Bag Lady."
She calls herself a bag lady because that surgery she had to have was an ileostomy, which is when doctors create an opening in the small intestine and then bring the intestine through an opening in the patient's abdomen. That creates what's called a stoma, the part of the intestine that sticks out through the abdomen, and patients then need an ostomy bag or pouch to collect waste that would have gone out through the anus before their surgery.
Miller has had an ostomy bag since she was 22, and at first it felt like the end of her dating life. She talks about the fears she went through after first receiving the bag in a recent Facebook post.
"Are you afraid of rejection? Afraid of this new overwhelming physical change? Change of who you define yourself as? The whole change in itself? Are you afraid of that red blob on your stomach? Are you afraid of hurting it? Are you afraid of those feelings of grief and confusion? Are you afraid of not being desirable," she wrote to her followers. "Was I afraid? Fuck yes. Do I still have those occasional feelings? Of course!"
Eventually, she realized that the bag could be considered a blessing.
"I came to a realization," she wrote. "My bag was literally going to weed out all the 'assholes' from my life!! I don't need toxic people in my life and I knew those who were repulsed or disgusted by me were the ones with the problem. They were ignorant and I was still going to be alive!"
Attraction and desire isn't a one size fits all thing, Miller said, and even though some people might be turned off by her ostomy bag or her scars, that didn't mean she would never find someone who'd think she is beautiful.
"I've looked at my body and hated it. I've despised the fact that I've had to have the surgery. I've felt disgust at my scars and bag and feared no one could find me desirable," she wrote. "I've also looked at my bag and my scars and my battered body and felt love and appreciation. I've appreciated how far I've come and how I'm not close to dying anymore."
Now, she often takes photos showing her ostomy bag for her Facebook page, and even continued to take them through pregnancy, to break down stigma and show other people who have bags that their bodies are still beautiful.
"I mean, come on," she wrote. "Confidence is THE sexiest thing on someone."
Refinery29 has reached out to Miller and will update this story when we receive a response.
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