A US beauty queen who wore her insulin pump during the bikini segment of a beauty pageant has become a hero to diabetes patients.
“Honestly, it is terrifying walking out on stage in a swimsuit, let alone attached to a medical device,” said Sierra Sandison, having been crowned Miss Idaho 2014 earlier this month.
Sandison posted a picture of her wearing a bikini onstage with her insulin pump exposed on Instagram after the event.
The 20-year-old’s picture then kick started the #ShowMeYourPump campaign on Twitter, where users upload pictures of themselves wearing their insulin pumps.
Sandison was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, and needs to wear her pump – a small computerised device – to deliver insulin to her body through a catheter, to help her body produce energy.
Initially, Sandison tried to ignore her condition, before deciding to face it head on:
“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," she told People Magazine.
She now wants to inspire confidence in other diabetic patients, who may have been influenced by traditional images of beauty perpetuated by mainstream media:
"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," she said.
“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, that is okay! It does not make you any less beautiful,” she added.
Online reaction to Sandison’s picture has been overwhelmingly positive.
Amber Vieira wrote on Facebook: “You are amazing! I just showed this photo to my 8yr old type 1 son and it made him very happy to see he is not alone! We may be from California but we are rooting for Idaho!”
Also on Facebook, Debbie Alexander Clarke, wrote: “You changed my 11 year old daughter’s summer! She’s been so self-conscious but since she read about you & saw this photo, she cannot wait to wear a bathing suit tomorrow & show off her insulin pod & have me post a photo here! Thank you so much!”
On Twitter, users have been posting pictures of themselves wearing their insulin pumps in a variety of locations: the beach, the set of Downton Abbey, and at work.
Sandison is set to compete in the Miss America finals in September.