Krystal Miller is a self-described “bag lady,” and not afraid to show it. The 33-year-old Perth, Australia-based blogger and mom of two often shares sexy photos of herself on Facebook, but they’re not exactly like the snaps you’d see on Kim Kardashian’s timeline. Instead, Miller’s sexy Facebook photos show her ileostomy bag, a pouch attached to her body that collects waste following the removal of much of her bowel.
Miller, the blogger behind Bag Lady Mama and a Facebook page by the same name, discovered around age 16 that she suffers from Crohn’s disease, and that the stomach problems she’d struggled with for years were being caused by an ulcerated bowel. After years of attempting to control the disease, she had a life-changing surgery at age 22: a total proctocolectomy and permanent ileostomy.
A proctocolectomy is a surgery to remove the colon and rectum, and an ileostomy is a surgical procedure that requires the doctor to “[create] a small opening in the abdomen, called a stoma, to which he or she attaches the end of the small intestine, called the ileum,” according to a post on UC San Francisco’s Center for Colorectal Surgery Page. It continues,
“I was opened from my breast bone to my pubic bone and 6 kg of diseased bowel was removed, but my life was handed back to me,” Miller wrote in a Facebook post.
On her blog and Facebook page, Miller is open about her struggles as a “bag lady,” revealing that she sometimes smells like poop if her bag has sprung a leak (“Good news is I’ve never been doing the deed and had a leak! That could be because I make sure it’s emptied beforehand! Lol,” she writes) and frequently shares her parenting challenges.
Her sexy photos, though, are especially powerful because she’s taking a kind of photo we’ve all seen on social media — the sexy booty shot, or the lingerie pic — and turning it on its head by showing off her ileostomy bag, both destigmatizing her condition and proving that all bodies are beautiful.
“Sexy photos are captivating and cause people to stop and look and read,” Miller tells HelloGiggles. “Sexy photos make you look beyond the bag, they show that there’s life beyond the bag. Plus, it’s confidence building — both to myself and to others.”
She wrote in a recent post that when she underwent her first surgery (she’s had others since) she was afraid of how her ileostomy would affect her love life. But, she explained,
And her posts are certainly having an impact. A community of “bag ladies” and “bag men” has gravitated to Miller’s Facebook page, frequently sharing their stories and supporting each other. Plus, her page has more than 35,000 likes — there’s no denying numbers like that.
Miller explained to HelloGiggles that she started her blog “to show women that they didn’t have to feel like their options were limited, that they didn’t have to feel ashamed, and also to raise pregnancy support and awareness with an ostomy.”
Keep sharing your incredible story, Krystal! It’s truly powerful.
*This story has been updated to include Miller’s response to HelloGiggles.