About the Author: Rebekah Wilkinson is a disability advocate living with Ulcerative Colitis. She started sharing her story on her social media platform in an effort to spread awareness of invisible illnesses and now inspires thousands. You can read more about her journey over on her instagram (@thebaglifeofbeck).
Hi there! My name is Rebekah (known as Beck), I’m 29 years old and I have Ulcerative Colitis. I’m from the UK and live in a county called Cheshire.
I was 18 years old when I first started having UC symptoms and I was 20 when I had my temporary ileostomy. I'd like to say that my symptoms vanished completely however after around 3 and a half years I developed pyoderma gangrenosum due to still having colitis in my rectum.
I decided to create an Instagram account which you know as “thebaglifeofbeck”. I did this to try and raise awareness of these hidden illnesses and also because I didn’t want anyone to feel alone. When I first had my bag, I would have loved to be referred to someone like myself to reach out and ask questions. It was lonely, and I honestly only thought old people had them, as that’s what people kept telling me! Honestly since I created my Instagram account it’s helped me so much. Helping others helps me. I love advocating and sharing my story. I love sharing the good, the bad and the in-between days. I always tell myself if 1 of my posts can help at least 1 person then it’s a job well done. It’s also helped me from a mental perspective, it keeps me focused and driven and has opened up so many amazing opportunities.
One of which I had the honour of attending a Figleaves campaign shoot. Which involved me wearing Underwear! It felt amazing to be able to stand in front of a camera confidently knowing that they also believed that I looked just as fabulous as I felt. It was the most amazing experience and honestly gave me such a massive boost of confidence as a huge brand like that wanted to have me participate in their campaign. It honestly is so incredible the boost wearing beautiful underwear really does give you, I never in a thousand years ever thought I'd be modelling with my ileostomy bag, I thought it would be something I'd never be able to do! I'm so proud of myself that I have been able to accept these opportunities and spread awareness of invisible illnesses whilst doing so. It's amazing that more and more companies are open to using normal people as models, to not edit their photos and to help empower people by doing so.
I'm hoping that with the confidence I've managed to build in myself I can try and help others realise that their bodies are beautiful no matter what. We're all beautiful and we're all real. That's the important thing here remembering that we are real humans that have battled numerous fights and are still battling them. We have scars to show it and scars to show what we've beaten and overcome. The problem is not with our bodies, the problem is with our minds telling us that we're not worthy and our bodies aren't beautiful. Once we convince our minds that we are wonderful then we can start to love our bodies and become happy from within.