Miss Idaho, aka Sierra Anne Sandison, could certainly be posting pictures of crowns and diamonds all over her Twitter page. But the beauty queen is choosing to show off another accessory — her insulin pump. Sandison, a 20-year-old diabetic, was crowned Miss Idaho last Saturday and has talked openly about how she felt when she got diagnosed with type one adult-onset diabetes in 2012. She tweeted a picture of herself lying on her bed, wearing her Miss Idaho sash and crown, a Wonder Woman sweatshirt, and an insulin pump.
She tagged the photo #showmeyourpump and encouraged friends and followers to share their own empowering pictures.
"My world was flipped upside down by my diabetes diagnosis," Sandison wrote in her official Miss Idaho blog. “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 … At Miss Idaho 2014, as most of you know, I made the decision to wear my pump on stage while competing. That decision took me two long years to make. When I first started competing [in pageants], I was using injections rather than a pump. I didn’t want people to see a weird-tubey-machine-thing attached to me all the time, and could not wrap my head around having a medical device on my body for the rest of my life.”
But there was something — well someone, actually — who helped Sandison change her mind: Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999, who competed in the pageant and won while wearing an insulin pump. Johnson writes and speaks about living with diabetes and authored a cookbook, “Nicole Johnson’s Diabetes Recipe Makeovers.” Once she learned about Johnson, that was all the inspiration Sandison needed to show off her insulin pump with pride.
"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. 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!" Sandison wrote.
And there are plenty of other famous people with diabetes. Music legend Aretha Franklin, Oscar winner Halle Berry, “Interview With the Vampire” author Anne Rice, and Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Gary Hall also have diabetes. Sandison recalled meeting a young girl backstage at a pageant. The girl also had diabetes but was embarrassed to wear an insulin pump until she saw Sandison wearing one too. “The thought that I could be one person’s ‘Nicole Johnson’ meant more to me than I can ever put into words,” she wrote.
Sandison will compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City on September 14. But, even if she doesn’t bring home the title, she has already won.