By Leah Fox
Forget The Calendar Girls, this is the colostomy girls! A brave bevy of beauties have stripped down to just their underwear to flaunt their colostomy bags with pride for a charity calendar.
A total of 14 glamorous women aged 20 to 53 from across the UK strutted their stuff for the incredible 2020 calendar to boost the confidence of people with ostomies.
This is the fifth time charity Purple Wings, which helps people with stomas regain their self-esteem, has created the calendar after their first effort in 2016 went viral online.
And 2020’s edition of the calendar has already raised a whopping £3,000 for the organisation to fund trips and events.
Charity founder Lauren Henderson, 31, from Worcestershire, who set up the organisation to boost the confidence of people with stomas after having one herself, said: “We wanted to do something completely different to everyone else and give people the chance to look and feel glamorous with their colostomy bags.
“At first I was nervous because I didn’t think people were going to actually do it.
“I had my stoma at 25 and featured in the first calendar with it – it just shows that it doesn’t make a difference to a person.
“It’s now my favourite event of the year – none of the people involved are scared to get their bag out, just like any other woman in that position – the bag wasn’t the issue at all!”
In previous years the photo shoot was held in a professional studio, but this year the charity took the plunge to have it outside, after they discovered a beautiful lakeside behind a social club in Redditch, Worcs, where it was originally supposed to take place in.
Purple Wings advertised for people to feature in the calendar as a pamper day, where women can get their hair and makeup done and then have the option to strip off and pose for pictures.
Claire, 53, who features in May, was diagnosed with crohn’s disease and colitis in 1988, and after unsuccessful treatments by 1997 she had a panproctocolectomy where her total colon was removed.
She said her two daughters and husband have been her rock throughout and gave her the encouragement to join the group of beautiful, brave and truly inspirational ladies to raise awareness.
Julie, from the month of April, had recently had her stoma made permanent following a previous bowel perforation, two tumours and colitis.
She said: “I questioned everything, then Purple Wings entered my life via a new friend, and slowly I began to start a new found journey.
“The calendar shoot made me come away emotionally and mentally a new person, with the added bonus of some amazing new found friends and best of all my daughter was there to share this experience with me.”
Annie, 31, who features on the front of the calendar and had her bag in 2016, added: “I was 6 weeks post op when I did the calendar shoot, it was worth the pain for such a good cause and the opportunity to meet some truly fabulous fierce queens!
“It was just what I needed to make me feel sexy again.”
The women had to raise £135 in sponsorships, with the £35 securing their place in the pamper session and includes pizza and prosecco.
The calendar will soon be available to buy for £9.99 on the charity’s website, purplewingscharity.com
Lauren added: “I was absolutely flabbergasted about the amount of money raised and everyone took it so seriously.
“It was a nice day when the photo shoot happened, so the fate was in our favour and we were so blessed with the views of the lake and jetties.
“The best reaction we’ve got from the calendar was from a young guy who didn’t even notice the bags on the ladies and said ‘is that it?’ – that’s the whole point of the calendar.
“We want to educate those without stomas with the calendar and gives those with one a confidence boost, especially the models.”