Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD to those in the know, is often an invisible condition, impacting on every aspect of a person’s life, but all behind closed doors.

A relentless need to get to the toilet and crippling fatigue are just two of the symptoms people living with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease have to live with. But to the outside world, friends, family, employers, there is nothing wrong with them.

That’s why when the #getyourbellyout campaign, inspired by the phenomenal success of #nomakeupselfies started to gain momentum, it struck a cord.

The campaign does what it says on the tin: people with IBD have been posting pictures of their tummies, or #belfies if you will, on Twitter, alongside a plea to donate to Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

These brave souls have bared their operation scars and their stoma bags, and lifted a lid on what it means to live with IBD.

So far, more than £1,000 has been pledged to the charity off the back, or should I say stomach, of the hashtag, but it’s about more than money: it’s about seeing what people live with, day in, day out, simply by looking a little deeper – under the clothes.

People with IBD are forever being told someone they know understands what they are going through: “My mum has IBS,” they say. We live in a world in which even the BBC doesn’t know its IBD from its IBS, as demonstrated by a muddling of the acronyms on its news website just last week.

Everyone taking part in #getyourbellyout, then, is doing their part to show the difference between a manageable inability to digest certain foods, and a chronic disease, with no known cause, no known cure and millions of sufferers around the world.

*Text IBDA99 and your donation to 70070

Published on: April 2, 2014