Instagram has recently (and thankfully) become a hotspot for body-positivity, with female and non-binary influencers at the front lines of the movement.
Freckle-faced, plus-size model Clémentine Desseaux founded the “All Women Project,” a campaign that celebrates women of varying ages, shapes, sizes, and colors. Transgender model and activist Shay Neary preaches self-love and visibility through selfies and poignant memes. And 22-year-old Winnie Harlow once bullied for her rare skin condition, now a world-renowned model promotes self-acceptance through her Instagram, which has attracted over 2 million followers.
Though slightly more under the radar, 19-year-old Amanda is also a force to be reckoned with. The Los Angeles-based activist, writer, and aspiring psychologist inspire women of all ages with her raw, candid photos and motivational captions. At first glance, one sees a young woman; thin, confident, and beautiful. Many of the photos she posts are of herself, topless or draped in revealing lingerie, always perfectly accessorized with a rotating plethora of colorful bandanas and gold jewelry. But as you scroll through her photos, there is one accessory that remains the same: the cream-colored bag which hangs directly under her navel.
In 2015, Amanda lost her colon after an aggressive battle with ulcerative colitis.
Her ileostomy pouch, which she fondly refers to as her “shitbag” has been a permanent fixture on her body for almost two years now.
Ulcerative colitis, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease of the colon, affects more than 200,000 Americans every year. Among the 23-45% of sufferers who will require surgery at some point in their lives, about 30% end up with infections or complications after a procedure. Warbritton is one of the 30%. She recently discovered she has pouchitis, an inflammation of her ileostomy bag, and will likely have to spend more time in the hospital.
But struggling with one’s body image is not a new concept to Amanda. At the alarmingly young age of seven, she began dieting and excessively working out.
“Growing up I was always around skinny, lengthy white girls and I just wasn’t, and never could be exactly that due to my genetics,” Warbritton says. “I always felt ‘fat’ even though I weighed the same as the girls I was around, it was just spread out differently.”
“I really had to remove myself from the unhealthy environment that glamorized being lengthy and skinny. There were times I looked in the mirror wishing I could be thinner, but at the end of the day I knew it wasn’t going to happen, at least [not] anytime soon.”
She spent the next few years appreciating her new body. But when she became sick with ulcerative colitis, she began to lose weight drastically.
“I…ended up losing around 20/25 pounds all together. I was so insecure about how skinny I had become. I lost all my curves and none of my clothes fit,” She says. “I had just learned to appreciate my thickness and now I had to learn how to appreciate having a thigh gap.”
I learned how to love myself in all the different shapes and sizes I had become over my 19 years of life. I learned what complimented me best when I was average when I was thick when I was skinny. I realized that society tries really hard to make you hate yourself, no matter what size you are. The self-love and appreciation you have for yourself truly has to come from within or else you’re never going to be satisfied with the way that you appear. I guess that’s why it was pretty easy for me to gain confidence with having a shitbag. I knew it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon and I knew that no one else was going to accept my circumstance unless I did for myself.
Rather than hiding her new body, she embraced it by delving into modeling. Last year, she became a model for the Los Angeles-based lingerie company, Fey Clothing. She is one of the many diverse faces of the company, which include trans women, plus-size women, and women of color. Pretty awesome, right?
Though her modeling career is now beginning to take off, she still hopes one day to become an adolescent psychologist. Her advice for young women?
You are capable of the things you desire from others, emotionally and physically. You are capable of manifesting anything and everything, all you have to do is look at things with the ‘I will’ and ‘I can’ attitude and put forth the effort. Everything in our life is manifested by us for the greater good, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
You can follow Amanda on Instagram at @colonlessfemale.
It was misinterpreted that Amanda was in a treatment center for an eating disorder. Though she has had personal weight problems in the past, she was never in a program for her weight or eating habits.