1. Sierra Sandison, the winner of the Miss Idaho 2014 pageant, isn’t the first Miss America contestant to use an insulin pump. But she is the first to proudly display it during the bikini competition.
Sandison, 20, of Twin Falls, Idaho, who was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2012, said when she started participating in pageants she used insulin shots instead of a pump because she didn’t want to have a visible medical device. It was the example of Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999, who also had Type 1 Diabetes and used a pump, that inspired Sandison to go forward with the public display.
2. “The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie stars, super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you,” Sandison wrote on her blog.
“Well, guess what? Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn’t make her any less beautiful. In fact, in my mind, it enhances her beauty!”
When she posted the photo to Facebook it became a symbol of hope for the Diabetes community. Users with children who were insecure about their own pumps posted messaged of support, and twitter followers started the hashtag: #showmeyourpump.
7. The support Miss Idaho is getting isn’t limited to the diabetes community. NPR even noticed that this move is part of a growing trend of medical device-wearing pride, from hearing aids to feeding tubes to prosthetics and canes.
Johnson, who still uses her platform as the former Miss America for Diabetes activism, told NPR that the visibility of assistive medical devices like insulin pumps is becoming a mark of community. “It is becoming more and more common to see them widely displayed, because of the opportunity that brings for connection to others,” she said. “In the diabetes community, we use the visibility of our devices as a badge of courage and a connector. There is a pride in successfully managing the condition and surviving.”