It wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction at the recent Miss Idaho pageant that led a picture of eventual winner Sierra Sandison to go viral. No, the photo that got people talking showed the 20-year-old proudly taking the stage in a bikini—with an insulin pump clipped to her bathing suit.
Sandison, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in February 2012, said she grappled with the decision over whether to wear the pump during the Miss Idaho Scholarship Program pageant on July 12, but she was floored by the support she received. As she wrote on the Miss Idaho blog: “I am overwhelmed with hearing how many lives have been touched by me simply wearing my pump on stage. It means so much to me, and I hope I can touch many more during my year as Miss Idaho.”
When Sandison first entered pageants, she was controlling her blood sugar via insulin injections. “I didn’t want people to see a weird-tubey-machine-thing attached to me all the time,” she wrote, “and could not wrap my head around having a medical device on my body for the rest of my life.” She said she was inspired to get an insulin pump after hearing about Nicole Johnson, winner of the 1999 Miss America pageant, who won the competition while wearing the medical device. Sandison got the pump one year after her diagnosis and said it helped her control her condition.
She posted the now-famous pageant photo (above) from photographer Susan Hessing on her Instagram account with a heartfelt statement on positive body image: “My message to everyone, diabetic or not, is that we all have something that doesn’t ‘measure up’ to the beauty standards set by the media—and that is okay! It does not make you any less beautiful. We also all have obstacles, challenges, and trials.”
Her courageous decision inspired others to share photos of themselves wearing a pump on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #showmeyourpump. So far, Sandison’s Facebook photo has more than 100 comments and photos, more than 6,000 likes and more than 3,300 shares.
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