Hereford & Worcester

Colostomy bag bikini photograph seen by nine million

Photo of Bethany Townsend wearing a bikini Image copyright Bethany Townsend
Image caption More than nine million people have viewed this photograph online

A photograph of woman with Crohn's disease wearing a bikini, revealing her colostomy bags, has been seen by more than nine million people online, a charity has said.

Bethany Townsend, from Worcester, has had the disease since she was three.

The 23-year-old former model was on holiday in Mexico last December when she decided to wear a bikini.

She sent the picture to Crohn's and Colitis UK, who posted it on their Facebook page.

Image copyright Bethany Townsend
Image caption Bethany Townsend decided to wear a bikini on holiday rather than hide her colostomy bags

Ms Townsend said: "I didn't expect this kind of reaction at all.

"The photo has been seen by millions of people and it's had nearly 210,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook - it's gone viral, it's just gone ballistic.

"When I first had the bags fitted I was devastated - the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them."

The chief executive of the charity, David Barker, said: "The feedback we've had had been really encouraging and people are really drawing strength from it.

"We need greater understanding, greater awareness and a higher profile for these conditions, and Bethany is helping us to do that."

Crohn's disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system, affecting the sufferer's ability to digest food, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.

Image caption Ms Townsend has had Crohn's disease since she was three years old

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