Meet Gut Girl
The digestive disease superhero
The digestive disease superhero
Allow me to introduce my alter-ego. Gut Girl thrives in spite of chronic illness and gives you the tools so that you can too! She has super powers that help her face anything that her health throws at her with guts. She may be missing a lot of her actual guts but she makes up for it with the guts (courage) it takes to live with her Crohn’s disease and her rare motility disease: Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction. Just like Super Man disguised himself as Clark Kent, Gut Girl disguises herself as a patient advocate named Sara Ringer. Together Sara and Gut Girl run Inflamed & Untamed where they share their super powers with you. They are your number one fan – always there to offer you encouragement and hope when you need it.
Metaphorically speaking her guts are out of this world!
For 9 years I was a camp counselor at Camp Oasis, a summer camp for children and teens living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Each year at camp there would be a different theme and in 2012 the theme was superheroes and the counselors were encouraged to dress up as their favorite one.
I must admit that I’ve never been into superheroes and know very little about them. What I did know is that I didn’t want to show up dressed as a superhero that already exists so I thought it would be fun to create an IBD superhero since I was headed to an IBD summer camp. I gathered up some items from around my house: A leotard, leg warmers, and tights I had saved from my years as a dancer. Additionally, I used a leftover ostomy bag from when I had my temporary ileostomy as well as a colon pin that was a Birthday gift from a friend. Then I purchased some fabric and some boys underwear and with a dash of glitter here and glob of glue there Gut Girl came to life.
In 2014 the theme at camp was superheroes again and so Gut Girl was brought back to Camp Oasis that summer and this time she had another IBD superhero with her: her co-counselor for the week, Dan Sharp who took on the role of Gut Guy.
When I first created Gut Girl in 2012 I only had a couple days to bring her to life before I left for Camp Oasis. I never really liked her original look but it did the trick for camp. Since I didn’t get to create her exactly the way I envisioned a digestive disease superhero to be I had always wanted to give her a new look at some point. In May 2019 I decide to take on that task and bring her with me to Digestive Disease Week for the AGA World IBD Day reception.
The vision I had for Gut Girl is that she would be part superhero, part extraterrestrial, and part futuristic robot. Yep, I do realize how ridiculous that sounds but… whatev. It makes sense in my mind! I wanted to incorporate who I am as a patient into the design because there are things about me that would be evident in the costume, like having a port and being on TPN. Instead of trying to hide those things so I don’t draw attention to them like I typically would, I decided to highlight them in Gut Girl.
So let me explain this part superhero, part extraterrestrial, part futuristic robot thing. As a patient I’ve felt like I was no longer human many times. Laying on cold, hard tables in bright rooms while people stood over me and put my body through things I could have never imagined made me feel like a project or an experiment and not a person. So the extraterrestrial part comes from old tales of alien abductions where the abductee’s claimed they were put through bizarre medical experimentation. I’ve ate radioactive food, had large bags of barium put into my body via an enema, swallowed tubes, had my abdomen cut open and organs removed, had my intestine poking out of a hole in my abdomen while my stool drained from me into a bag… as a patient you can just stop feeling human after awhile.
I wanted to take all those things and highlight them in Gut Girl. The life of a digestive disease patient who is poked, prodded, and probed and no longer feels human – that is the extraterrestrial in this.
The new version of Gut Girl has a transparent backpack so that if I am wearing the costume during the time I need to be running TPN you can see it in the backpack. That is the ‘futuristic robot’ part of her – she doesn’t need to eat real food because she’s receiving this nutrition solution that is in her backpack and being pumped into her body through a central line in her chest. You can see the lights of the pump and hear the noise it makes as the solution is pumped into her body and this is how she eats; how very futuristic of her! Not eating gives her more time to do things that are important to her like helping other patients.
The superhero side of her is still rooted in what traditional superheroes look like with her leotard and her cape and the crest printed on her chest. Gut Girl as a whole represents the strength that it takes to live with severe and debilitating illness.
More information about Gut Girl’s costume transformation:
Gut Girl’s archnemesis is, The Phantom Rectum who pursues her relentlessly in search of vengeance.
The Phantom Rectum can’t stand that Gut Girl and so many others have replaced their rectums with an ostomy or a J-pouch. In his eyes nothing can take the place of a real rectum, even if it’s a diseased rectum, and for this reason he makes sure that Gut Girl never forgets the rectum she had removed.
The Phantom Rectum haunts her, he is with her always, and he won’t stop until he gets revenge. He is a pain in the ass, literally!
Her sidekick is an orange tabby cat named Remus Redington Electric Boogaloo Sharp who works as a patient advocat.
The original Gut Girl was specifically created for Camp Oasis which is a summer camp for children and teens living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative coltis.
However, Gut Girl represents all digestive diseases. Since I (Sara) have a rare GI disease, Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction, as well as Crohn’s disease; I did not want Gut Girl to only represent IBD.
Gut Girl is 6 feet tall when she wears her platform boots that are 7 inches high.
Super Pooper: Last seen at Camp Oasis in 2012. She wears a red leotard, black tights, and a white tshirt with her crest on it. Her crest has her initials, SP, written in large red and black text. Super Pooper has a roll of toilet paper around her belt and her headband. She disguises herself as a yoga teacher living in Oklahoma named Blake Moon.
Gut Guy: Last seen at Camp Oasis in 2014 and rumored to be in a relationship with Gut Girl. He has a PICC line and wears a belt that has syringes filled with chemical warfare. His cape is green and his chest crest is similar to the one Gut Girl wore originally. He disguises himself as a medical labratory scientist by the name of Dan Sharp who lives somewhere in northern Illinois.
Samarium and The Unbeatables: The project called ‘IBD Unmasked‘ was created by Marvel Comics, Takeda, the CCFA and a panel of patients (I was one of them). Together they created Samarium: a student scientist with IBD named Ian who accidentally creates an impenetrable suit of armor. This was Marvel’s first pharma sponsored superhero. A graphic novel was also created and was written by Deadpool co-creator, Fabian Nicieza about the Unbeatables. The Unbeatables are a group of superheroes who have one thing in common: inflammatory bowel disease.
#IBDSuperheroes: A UK based group of patient advocates that fundraises on behalf of the charity, Cure Crohn’s Colitis (C3). All of the money received by IBD Superheroes is put toward patient-centric research. Their website raises awareness of IBD and aims to “stamp out stigma” related to it.
Colitis Ninja: Seeks to raise awareness while providing support, homor, and encouragement. She wears the color purple and sports a toilet paper headband along with a spoon to represent the ‘spoonie’ community. Created by Amber Elder who is an artist and puts her talents to use through advocacy.
Gastro Girl: A superhero created by Jacqueline Gaulin who wears a purple cape and a crest adorned with two large letter G’s. She describes her site as “virtual care & support between doctor visits for patients with gastrointestinal health conditions.”
It is rumored that she is in a relationship with Gut Guy though this has never been confirmed. They were last seen together in 2014 during the teen dance at Camp Oasis in Michigan.
Gut Girl wears a fanny pack full of small gifts she loves handing out to people she meets. She has a variety of stickers, buttons, wristbands, oral rehydration solutions, and more in there.
Have her at your fundraiser, reception, conference, exhibit hall, meetup, or pretty much any event that involves digestive diseases. Gut Girl is a fun photo opportunity for your guests. In addition to photos she (Sara) is also available to speak or if you have any other ideas for Gut Girl let me know and I’ll see if it’s something that can be arranged.