The newly crowned Miss Idaho 2014, Sierra Sandison, is being hailed as an inspiration for wearing her insulin pump exposed while competing in the bikini portion of a pageant.
The 20-year-old posted a picture of herself on Tuesday in a bikini with her insulin pump clipped to her bottoms. The photo instantly went viral, prompting many other diabetes patients to show off their pumps, using hash tag #ShowMeYourPump.
“I would never have dreamt of posting a swimsuit picture on social media, but diabetics from all over the country have been asking to see me and my insulin pump on the #MissIdaho2014 stage,” she wrote on Instagram. “Honestly, it is terrifying walking out on stage in a swimsuit, let alone attached to a medical device."
Sandison, who was crowned Miss Idaho on July 12, said she suffers from Type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, which is necessary to produce energy, the Mayo Clinic said.
“Diabetes turned my life upside down when I was first diagnosed,” she wrote. "For a while, I pretended that I didn't have diabetes, hoping it would go away. That led to crazy blood sugars, of course, and a very sick, grumpy, and discouraged Sierra.”
Sandison said she learned Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, wore an insulin pump while competing and it inspired her to do the same.
"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 told People Magazine. "Well, guess what? Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn't make her any less beautiful … So, a year after I was diagnosed, I got a pump. It helped me get even better control of my diabetes, and made my life so much easier."
Now, the Miss America hopeful is eager to inspire others, especially those who suffer from diabetes, to educate and give confidence to others.
“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,” she wrote. “We also all have obstacles, challenges, and trials. Don't let your challenge hold you back or slow you down. Use it to not only empower yourself and grow as an individual, but to serve and influence other people as well.”
Sierra Sandison will compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City on September 14.