Woman battling bowel diseases wears bikini on Instagram to inspire body confidence


After dealing with a string of debilitating bowel diseases for the past seven years, this 23-year-old teaching assistant is embracing her new body — and stoma bag — by uploading bikini photos on Instagram.

At 18-months-old, Bethany Gallagher was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, an autoimmune condition that attacked her tissues and joints, causing an array of other illnesses. When she was 15, Gallagher developed Crohn’s disease after her immune system started attacking her digestive system, and in May 2018, she also developed psoriasis.

After a series of steroids and various medications to treat her bowel disease, Gallagher underwent an operation to get a permanent stoma bag in 2017. It was then that she started posting snaps of her body on Instagram, titled “TheFoulBowel.”

“I originally made [my Instagram] for my family and friends… so they were able to understand my condition and follow my health journey,” Gallagher, a teacher’s assistant in Sheffield, England, told The Post. “Not long after, others with stomas started to follow and message me that I was helping them come to terms with the stomas.”

Gallagher’s health journey was full of highs and lows. Before being fitted with a stoma, she was going to the toilet 20 times a day and experienced strong stomach pains, acid reflux and constant diarrhea. And because she was unable to digest food on her own, 5-foot-3-inch Gallagher hit her lowest weight of 56 pounds when she was 22-years-old.

In March 2018, she underwent a second surgery to completely remove her large intestine and her colon after developing diversion colitis, which caused her colon to be inflamed and her rectum to bleed up to 50 times a day.

But even though her medical journey isn’t over, Gallagher said that her Instagram has given her a strong support system.

“It’s been amazing to join a community of people that are in a similar position and turn something that was so negative in my life to a positive,” she said. “I don’t think any ostomate will ever truly accept their new bodies, it’s a massive roller coaster ride… but I hope others realize that we are all in different and come in different shapes and sizes.”