*49-year-old model Jearlean Taylor is opening up about her career in the industry and not letting her ostomy bags stop her from becoming a success.
As The Baltimore Sun notes, Taylor is one of 750,000 Americans living with an ostomy, which is a surgical opening that allows people to release urine and waste from their bodies into small pouches. One of the concerns people with them have is, what if the bag leaks. Some even avoid intimacy or live in isolation rather than risk embarrassment.
As a young model, Taylor had two ostomies, and she feared the day when she would be asked to model a bikini. When that day came, she decided to come clean about her medical condition to the head of her modeling agency. To her surprise, he was encouraging.
“I am not worried about that,” he told her. “Because you’ve got talent.”
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At age 2, Taylor was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, and she has been living with ostomy bags since. She’s also one of the country’s most outspoken advocates for people who have an ostomy, said Ed Pfueller, communications and outreach manager with the Maine-based United Ostomy Associations of America Inc.
“The fact that she has an ostomy really hasn’t stopped her at all,” he said. “Her career is thriving and she is displaying a lot of confidence, and I think that is inspiring to people.”
Taylor remembers feeling alone at times growing up with an ostomy. She even missed a year of elementary school after kids teased her for smelling bad.
“I was a kid,” she said. “I didn’t know how to take care of ostomy bags. The other kids made so much fun of me and it was hurtful.”