At Miss Idaho 2014 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, 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.
Then, I heard about Nicole Johnson: Miss America 1999. She wore her pump while competing at Miss America. My whole perspective changed.
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! 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. Working up the confidence to compete with it was an entirely different journey, but this summer at Miss Idaho 2014, I finally did it.
As I nervously walked out of the dressing room the first night of competition, the first person I saw said, “What’s that? Is that an insulin pump?”. My stomach flipped upside down. “I shouldn’t have worn this,” I thought, “everyone is going to be confused and wonder what I am wearing”. But, the inquisitor happened to be McCall Salinas, the current Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen. She shared with me that she had diabetes as well, but didn’t want a pump because of similar reasons I had had. Through out the night, she stood backstage cheering me on. We bonded over diabetes and pageants, and by the end of the night, she told her mom she was ready to get a pump. It brought me to tears. The thought that I could be one person’s “Nicole Johnson” meant more to me than I can ever put into words. Now, with the title of Miss Idaho, I have had a million new opportunities to spread the word about diabetes and overcoming obstacles! I am overwhelmed with hearing how many lives have been touched by me simply wearing my pump on stage. It means so much to me, and I hope I can touch many more during my year as Miss Idaho.
Credit: This has been written by Sierra Sandison and has been compiled from her blog post “Defeating Diabetes“.