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As reigning Mrs. Mason County, Washington, Robin Brown spreads ostomy awareness beautifully.
How does a wife, mother, and tomboy who loves fishing and camping find herself strutting down the runway proudly displaying her ostomy pouching system? Robin Brown, the reigning Mrs. Mason County, Washington, credits her winning the crown to taking the bait whenever the universe casts her a line.
Robin often experienced “stress tummy” through her childhood and was not diagnosed with a bowel disease until college. At age 21 she came down with septic salmonella. After an appendectomy, she lost portions of her intestines due to infection. A serious truck accident in 2014 further damaged her gut health. After over a decade of trying to manage her symptoms with medications and bowel resections, Robin underwent colostomy surgery in 2018.
“I was terrified at first, and scared of being known,” explains Robin. “I was afraid to go out, so I just didn’t.”
Though Mike, her husband of seventeen years, supported her 100 percent, she still needed something to help her heal emotionally. She got a sign from the universe when a friend invited her to join her beauty consulting team to pass the time during recovery. Back then Robin didn’t even know how to apply her own makeup, but as a certified medical assistant with a passion for dermatology, the skincare aspect of the business hooked her. Through this opportunity, she began her personal transformation to regaining her confidence.
“I discovered that when I look good, I feel better,” says Robin. “And I love helping other women feel beautiful—it’s more than makeup, it’s like creating community.”
One of her clients, whose daughter competed in beauty pageants, suggested that Robin consider competing based on her inspiring story. Just six months later, a high school friend mentioned that she was involved in the Mrs. Idaho pageant, and thought that Robin would make a great contestant.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a beauty queen,” laughs Robin. “But I couldn’t ignore the signs and I applied for the Mrs. Mason County, Washington, pageant.”
Every contestant is required to have a platform: a cause to which she volunteers her time. Still unsure how a platform around gastrointestinal disease or living with an ostomy would be received, she soon learned while conversing at a pageant Christmas party. A fellow contestant, shocked by Robin’s personal story and poise, took her aside and revealed her fear that an ostomy might be in her own future due to Crohn’s disease, and then asked for advice. Robin knew then her platform had to be gastrointestinal health and disease prevention.
Robin’s beauty, two-thumbs-up attitude, and inspiring platform impressed the judges and she won! She reached out to her surgeon for advocacy ideas and learned that some patients refuse ostomy surgery.
“It saddened me to think the stigma is so great that some people would quite literally rather die than have an ostomy,” says Robin. “There’s clearly not enough information out there, and I knew I had to be a voice.”
When a tragedy in the ostomy community reached the mainstream media in January 2019, a now more confident Robin publicly showed her support.
“I remember saying to a friend about a year ago ‘If you think I am going to be one of those girls posting on Insta with my bag out you are wrong.’ And then a year later I posted on behalf of Seven.”
In a social media video on her public page she offered to answer any questions people may have about ostomies. She even went so far as to show her stoma, which she calls “Bruce Wayne” as the Batman to her Robin.
As Mrs. Mason County she visits classrooms to discuss anti-bullying. And depending on the grade level, she talks about her ostomy. The admiration of her seven-year-old son reinforces her confidence to speak to other kids about diversity and acceptance.
“He keeps me laughing,” says Robin. “He thinks it is the greatest thing ever that his mom poops in a bag – it makes me special. I’ve spoken at his school about anti-bullying. We discussed that my ostomy makes me ‘cool-different.’”
Robin also volunteers at the Seattle Children’s Hospital to mentor kids with ostomies. She plans on doing more Facebook Live events and an online fundraiser towards Ollie Ostomy teddy bears and Shadow Buddy dolls to distribute to kids with ostomies.
This beauty queen refuses to give up her reign. She’ll compete for the Mrs. Washington crown on June 15, 2019, and hopes to triumph her way to the Mrs. America pageant in Las Vegas, where she’ll be required to wear a two-piece swimsuit.
“I’m going to bedazzle my bag and wear it proudly!” concludes Robin.
And don’t think for a moment that she’s giving up fishing. Robin is thrilled that her stoma is on the left side so it doesn’t get in the way of setting her hook. However, we have a feeling she’ll be reeling in a lot more than fish this year. We wish her the best of luck!
Follow Robin’s journey on Instagram: @robin_browns_beauty_barn
Robin Brown is the reigning Mrs. Mason County, Washington, and a beauty consultant. She lives with her husband and seven-year-old son on 10-acres in Belfair, Washington. When not working, she can be found fishing, gardening and tending her chickens.
Financial Disclosure: Robin Brown received compensation from Hollister Incorporated for her contribution to this article.
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