Diabetes Forecast

Miss Idaho: Show Me Your Pump!

Sierra Sandison wears more than a crown

By Rachel Janovsky ,
sierra sandison in blue dress with tiara and miss idaho sash

Sierra Sandison
Photograph by Tara Pugmire

With a crown on her head and an insulin pump on her hip, Sierra Sandison, 20, has launched a wave of diabetes pride. Sandison visibly wore her pump while competing in—and winning—the Miss Idaho pageant in July. A photo of Sandison striding across the stage in a bikini and a pump became an Internet sensation. People posted photos on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter of themselves with pumps, labeling the photos with Sandison’s #showmeyourpump hashtag.

What to Wear?

Sandison is not the first pageant winner with diabetes. She was inspired by Nicole Johnson, PhD, Miss America 1999, who competed with and continues to advocate for diabetes. Sandison wanted to get over her fear of what others would think if she publicly wore her pump.

Pageants and Pumping

Sandison’s blood glucose levels often would run high during beauty pageant competitions. She experienced improvements when she switched from injections to an insulin pump. “My blood sugars still ran a little high because I was so stressed out, but with my pump, I could change my basal rate or give a correction,” she says. “It made my week a lot easier.” Despite donning evening gowns and bikinis, she had no trouble deciding where to place her infusion site, because she normally wears it on her hip or glutes.

Inner Beauty

“The media has a narrow definition of beauty. In reality, none of us can live up to those standards,” Sandison says. “What we need to realize is that the flaws we have are okay. They don’t make us less beautiful but more beautiful because they are unique characteristics.” Diabetes, Sandison quickly points out, is only one of her attributes. “Your diabetes does not define you. Even though we should spread awareness for it, we should keep in mind that we are so much more than type 1 diabetes.”

Rachel Janovsky is a freshman at the University of Illinois. She is currently the American Diabetes Association’s Northern Illinois Youth Advocate and holds the title of Miss Teen Illinois Galaxy 2014.



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