Image commercially licensed from Unsplash
Beyond The Stoma is the brainchild of British fitness enthusiast and model Petrina Barber, who is on a mission to empower, encourage and support everyone living life with a stoma (colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy bag) and to raise awareness amongst the general public about this hidden disability that some 200,000 people in the UK live with and an estimated 13.5 million people worldwide.
Despite eight years of life threatening health struggles, a bleak prognosis and permanent stoma surgery in January 2023, Petrina has managed to galvanise the stoma world, set up an online educational platform and is using her own experiences and discoveries to help change perceptions of what it means to live with a stoma.
The aim is for Beyond The Stoma to be the world’s no.1 stoma resource hub. A place where people can find unbiased information, access to resources and a supportive community network.
In a daring and groundbreaking collaboration with renowned photographer Jody Wright, Petrina Barber and friends for Ostomy Awareness Day diminish the fear and dial up the fun as they celebrate their extraordinary bodies and encourage body confidence. The brand new images embrace the group’s sensuality and inner strength, showing off their stoma’s in a way never seen before!
Speaking to womensjournal.com, Petrina, said: “This isn’t just another real life photoshoot – we are making a bold and artistic statement which shows that you can be strong, sexy and confident despite facing health challenges and that you can re emerge from battle even stronger and more beautiful than before” Petrina continues, “we hope that by showing off our bodies in this way, the other 200,000 people in the UK with a stoma, many of whom are young, will feel empowered to unapologetically embrace their own bodies. Our stomas are part of us and we wear them with pride!”.
Petrina is passionate about breaking down negative stereotypes, dreaming big and living boldly. In this campaign she draws inspiration from kintsugi, the Japanese ancient art of embracing imperfection. Kintsugi means “to join with gold”. Gold leaf is used to embellish the cracks on objects, turning something broken into something beautiful. It serves as a reminder to stay optimistic when things fall apart and to celebrate the flaws and missteps of life.
The campaign stars individuals who have been broken and then fixed partly by having a stoma. Their superhuman, strong and resilient bodies are adorned with shimmering gold leaf, highlighting their imperfections rather than hiding them, symbolising the beauty in their human fragility.
“The key takeaway for this campaign is to break the taboo that a stoma is something to fear, there has to be more education around this. We receive hundreds of DMs on our Instagram page from people scared to have one fitted because there is lack of awareness. In fact, a stoma can give you your life back”.
To represent ourselves we wanted to embody the essence of kintsugi, embrace imperfections and turn them into something valuable and beautiful”, said Petrina, the visionary force behind this empowering movement.
Stomas are fitted to allow bodily waste to be diverted and expelled from the body into a bag. The reasons for having one are numerous and commonly include bowel, cervical and bladder cancer as well as ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
In this trailblazing campaign, Petrina and the other remarkable individuals are on a mission to redefine societal perceptions of stomas.
As a dedicated campaigner Petrina’s mission is to increase accessibility to products and facilities and erase the stigma that has persisted for far too long. The jaw-dropping visuals featuring these confident and empowered individuals are just the start of challenging conventional beauty standards and celebrate the uniqueness of the every human body.
The new campaign hopes to lead the charge in breaking taboos, clarifying misconceptions and proving that stomas are not just a life-saving necessity and medical wonder, but a badge of honour and show of strength.
Petrina Barber Official: petrinabarber