Forget what you think you know about beauty pageant contestants. The courageous, strong, talented and yes, beautiful women who compete for the crown are so much more than pretty faces who can rock and evening gown. The newly crowned Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison, for example, made waves by wearing her insulin pump on her bikini during the swimsuit competition.
The idea to proudly display her pump, instead of finding some way to conceal it, came from a pre-competition lunch. While the competition director was asking about Sandison’s community service platform, the topic of Sandison’s diabetes came up.
“Since we were at lunch, I had to give myself a shot, and when she saw the shot, the director said, ‘Oh my goodness you’re a diabetic.’ Then proceeded to tell me about Nicole Johnson, who was Miss America in 1999. She actually wore her insulin pump on stage,” Sandison told E! News. “That gave me the confidence to get one, when I first heard about Nicole.”
With that inspiration in mind, Sandison wore her pump onstage and hoped it wouldn’t negatively impact her overall score. It clearly did not; since she went on to win the title. She’s also started the campaign, #ShowMeYourPump. Using the hashtag, many people have shared not only their support for Sandison, but also their own photos and stories about living with diabetes.
“I have gotten negative feedback, which has been really hurtful, but the positive feedback has been so overwhelming and SO appreciated,” Sandison said. “I didn’t expect people to understand how scary it was. I didn’t know how people would respond. I thought people would think it’s not really a big deal, but it’s been overwhelming to see such positive support, and the #ShowMeYourPump photos and stories.”
In addition to spreading diabetes awareness, Sandison also hopes to challenge how beauty, and beauty pageant contestants, is depicted.
“I think one of the biggest problems is the media gives us a one-dimensional look on beauty,” she said. “What I really want people to know is whatever our differences are; it does make you look beautiful. It makes you look unique, and should be celebrated, rather than thought of as a flaw.”
Image from Susan Hessing Photography