This week whilst scrolling through Facebook, a post popped up from The Crohn's & Colitis page, highlighting a show that was to be aired that evening on channel TLC, which would include 2 people living with ostomy bags...
"This observational documentary series follows 10 unique singletons, ordinary people living with extraordinary medical conditions, on their quest to find love. All these conditions can be kept secret during a date, and with that comes a whole world of dilemmas"
I thought it sounded mildly entertaining. Along the same lines of 'The Undateables' - a show following a people with a range of disabilities on the quest for love. I guess it would highlight these various issues and medical conditions, bring them to the publics attention, showcase a very real problem of having a 'hidden disease'. Nothing wrong with that I guess & it is not the show I really have a problem with. What disgusted me was the title that TLC chose to use.
Too Ugly For Love (?)
(The question mark is inconsistently used but makes no difference. Without it is a statement, with it is asking the public for their opinion.)
Now I am obviously speaking from the IBD/Ostomy stand point but this show includes people living with such things as, alopecia, ostomy bags, severe burns and missing limbs apparently conditions which OBVIOUSLY deem them far, far to ugly to find or be loved. Cheers TLC!
I would like to think I am relatively thick skinned and resilient - I was able to brush off the title with a laugh and a strongly worded OFCOM complaint. But to the teenage girl who has just had an ostomy fitted, or the terrified man on a waiting list to have one, the news that they could now be considered 'ugly' would be a pretty low and confidence crushing blow, no doubt voicing private worries they have themselves.
Having an ostomy is a huge lifestyle change, it takes its toll and a while to adjust. From my experience, initially your confidence is knocked, your body doesn't look how you want it to and you'll worry what people might think. Then to be publicly told that you are too ugly for love, is nothing shot of vile.
Some may argue that the show does positive things for raising the exposure of IBD and ostomy bags, bringing it to the attention of the UK public. I would argue that this kind of exposure is far from positive. Portraying those with ostomy bags as so widely different from 'normal' people that they need their own dating show only compounds an idea I hate. Yes I have Crohn's, yes I have an ostomy and aside from going to the toilet in a slightly different way, I am the same as every other person walking down the street. The show highlights an insecurity that is not exclusive to those with medical conditions but effects everyone who has ever had low self esteem, felt insecure or low in confidence - if you ask me thats nearly everyone at some point in their life.
Judging by the hundreds of comments, tweets and posts in Crohn's support forums I have read today I am not alone in my views. It is also heartbreaking the number of people who have been upset and negatively effected by this title. TLC you should be ashamed.
It is also important to note that I am in no way judging the people involved in the show. Marcia who is involved with the show and has an ostomy responded to the outcry with her own statement here - highlighting that she was unaware of the shows name until filming was almost complete. Antony, who also features with his ostomy, explained in his statement that the shows name was changed last minute. I think they're very brave and were only ever taking part for positive reasons.