Should my colostomy be public or private?

Personally, I keep Victor (yes, I’ve named my stoma…LOL) covered when out and about, except when I shower at the gym or at the Yoga studio. For many years I kept my back turned to everyone and quickly wrapped in my towel to keep Victor and my ostomy appliance hidden. Gradually, I became more comfortable and became less self-conscious about letting others see the new me. In most cases, I find that people are very polite. They might do a quick double-take the first time they see me, but then they just go on about their business. I’ve been asked a few times, “What is that?” or “What happened to you?” I use this opportunity to briefly share my story and talk about how early screening can prevent colon cancer.

The “stigma” of being an ostomate, or a colon cancer or bowel disease survivor may well be part of why some of us wait so long to seek treatment or even talk about our issues. We would likely have fewer deaths and better outcomes, if the discussion of bowel related issues was more acceptable like women’s breast health is now acceptable thanks to the Komen runs and Avon walks.

Other ostomates comments:

I was informed the other day that i really need to keep my bag covered in public, was wearing tshirt but valve did show alittle. At the time i said i was sorry, and pulled the shirt down some. I started this, going to be funny, but now i feel angry. And thats not on the healing list!! So what about ediquet?


MMMMMMMMMMM I do not know how to answer this question. Personally I do everything I can to keep my bag covered in public or even at home. I would not want to make anyone uncomfortable including myself. I hate looking at a poopie bag myself. I guess I am old fashion about it. Peace be to you also tlranger. I am looking forward to what others have to say about it.

I wear an opaque bag so people don’t have to look at the contents. But I don’t cover my bag when I am showering in a public shower at my local Y. I have an ostomy friend who wears a bikini which obviously shows her bag. Should anyone else with a prostheis have to hide it? It would be like someone with an artificial limb being told that they have to wear long pants all the time. I don’t publically display my bag all the time but don’t think I should have to hide either.

Here is a little advise about what you can do with your ostomy bag to make it look fashionable:

My ostomy bag is always covered up except at home when and if I don’t wear a shirt. In public, I wear my shirts out side my pants and my bag is, too. When I dress in a suit, I wear the bag under my pants and wear suspenders so the waist isn’t so tight. I wouldn’t dream of showing my bag. It would be like having the public in the bathroom with you when you deficate. An artificial arm or leg isn’t associated with something that in America we see as a private function. Bowel movements are.


I think of my appliance much like a diaper– I tried to keep my kids’ diapers covered, but if they showed, it wasn’t the end of the world.  My bag is opaque, so all you’re seeing is the bag, not the contents.  The person who said showing their bag in public is like inviting them into the bathroom with you is overstating it.  If you pulled your pouch out and emptied it in public, THAT would be the same thing– even if your pants are on.  But seeing the bag– that’s just like seeing your underwear.  Sometime’s it’s going to slip or peek, but I do try to keep it covered.  I wear a bikini, and while the bag itself is always covered, my scar always shows, and usually a corner of the wafer will as well.  It looks like a bandaid– whatever.



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