It’s Valentine’s day! A day dedicated to sharing love with all the special people in our lives, including ourselves. 💚 Amy (@ibdwarriorprincess) has written a lovely blog post about her journey to self-love, and how important it is to recognise and appreciate all the wonderful things about yourself.

Whatever you’re doing today, make sure you take time for yourself and acknowledge all the beautiful things about yourself.

Happy reading!


Self-love is a must this Valentine’s day (& every other day!) 

A little about me

Hello, my lovelies! I’m Amy (@ibdwarriorprincess on Instagram) & I’m 30, living in Yorkshire, UK. In 2011, I underwent life-saving surgery which changed my internal “plumbing” and left me with my permanent ileostomy. 

I had this formed because of severe Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease) & a large, benign tumour. I also had my rectum and anus & my appendix taken away. Because I will never go to the toilet out my bum again, it was surgically sewn up (sometimes known as “barbie butt” surgery. To the naked eye however, it looks like a normal bum if I wear a bikini etc. My surgeons did a fantastic job & it was long & touch & go. Surgery literally saved my life by hours.


How did surgery impact me?

Understandably, having such major surgery, especially at 19 as a young woman, impacted me on every level. It has had long-lasting effects on me both physically and mentally, but it has also empowered me in a way I could only have ever imagined before surgery.

I would go through it all again to feel how I do now, despite it being the hardest time of my life, when I struggled to see the light. Even now, over ten years post surgery, I face new challenges (but ones I can actually face most of the time thanks to my stoma) & still have days where emotionally, things are much tougher than other days and that’s okay. Learning to get yourself through those days and practice self compassion and self love has been so vital to me, especially in the last few years.

How would you speak to a friend who is struggling?

I ask myself this when I’m finding things tough and try and speak to myself as I would a friend. It was really tough at first, but little by little, it really has helped me to be more gentle on myself and realise that I am worth the care that I would give to a friend. I matter, and that isn’t being selfish, it is realising that I deserve to be a priority too. 


The 3 things tip

Every day, I say three things that I like about myself when I look in the mirror, to start my day. These don’t have to be physical things, and some days are harder than others, but I find this can help set my mindset to a place of gratitude, focusing on what I can achieve and what I do like. 

You are gorgeous, just as you are!

Because of my surgery, I’ve been able to develop body confidence & a good relationship with my body over 10 years. Before my surgery, I could never keep up a consistent weight & food was my enemy. 

Gradually, since surgery, that has thankfully changed & I’ve managed to stay a constant weight these last few years. My ileostomy has actually enabled me to feel sexy, empowered, confident & accept & embrace my reflection all whilst unapologetically being myself. I have got to that point where I don’t care what people who don’t matter think, and it’s truly magical! It took me a while, but feeling so free within yourself is so worth the uphill struggle it took to get here.

I took part in the 2021 Swim Society casting which was so empowering & I’ve worked hard & been able to grab many opportunities, around body confidence, stoma life and more, with both hands. I know that at 19 years old, I would have found recovery a lot more manageable and getting more comfortable with my body image if I’d have had people such as myself and those within the online community to not only look up to, but to talk to and meet.


Body neutrality 

…is about accepting your body as it is. It is not the same as body positivity. With body neutrality, we accept difficult emotions instead of trying to deny them, learn to free our minds from “body talk” (whether good or bad), alleviate the pressure from ourselves to feel a certain way & remove judgement from how we’re feeling. We don’t try and replace criticism with a positive spin, but more we come to practice going about our day where self love isn’t centred around how we look.

Body neutrality can sometimes be seen as the “middle ground” where you entertain a “meet me halfway” approach with yourself. Doing this can free up headspace for other things.

Don’t get me wrong, self love can be so transformative, but for some, including myself a few years ago, the leap from being unhappy in your skin to loving your body can seem too far-fetched. It can also feel a bit like you’re having to fake confidence & be unauthentic, which can actually make the situation worse, which is why this “middle ground” can be a good place to start.

The main takeaway from body neutrality for me was to focus on what my body does for me rather than how it looks. This definitely enabled me to be much more compassionate towards myself and I felt I could take back my power and gently do what felt best for me and my health, which in turn, made me feel a lot better about myself.


My scars are beautiful

I wear my scars with pride. They are my warrior stripes & I am so proud that they symbolise that every little cell in my body has always been, and is routing for me, right up until this point. Remember that the tortoise wins the race, not the hare. Body neutrality, self love and body confidence is all part of a journey, not a destination. It’s as much about knowing when to push yourself but also knowing when to rest. 

Above everything, I believe that you deserve to feel loved, especially if that comes from self love and appreciating yourself as you are.

“Our bodies are our own canvases, ready for our own beautiful musings, patterns, stumbles & breakthroughs. When things go wrong, don’t throw your artwork away. Trust the process. Pick up a new paintbrush & keep painting until you never fully lose the sunshine in those colours for too long. They will be visible again, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.” – me, 2021.


You are always worthy of love.

Love Amy x



Thank you once again to Amy for sharing this wonderful blog all about the importance of self love, and recognising how important it is to take care of yourself. 💚 Make sure to check out Amy’s Instagram page @ibdwarriorprincess to keep up to date with Amy and her journey!


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