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Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison wins adulation of Type 1 diabetes community after flaunting insulin pump in bikini

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The winner of the Miss Idaho pageant, who openly displayed her insulin pump during the beauty contest's swimsuit competition, says she wants to promote diabetes awareness.

Wearing her bikini, 20-year-old Sierra Sandison sported the insulin pump, which resembles a cell phone, on her right hip.

She wanted to enhance awareness of diabetes and to demonstrate beauty can come in many forms, she says.

"The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you," she wrote on her blog.

Sandison was diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes in February of 2012.

At first, she says, she struggled with the diagnosis.

"For a while, I pretended that I didn't have diabetes, hoping it would go away," she wrote. "That led to crazy blood sugars, of course, and a very sick, grumpy, and discouraged Sierra."

At first, she was reluctant to compete in pageants because of her dependence on the pump, she says.

"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," she says.

However, she says, that changed when she learned that Miss America of 1999, Nicole Johnson, had diabetes and also wore an insulin pump during her pageant -- albeit discreetly.

"Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn't make her any less beautiful ... 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," she says.

However, discretion was not for her, Sandison says, so she purposefully made the pump clearly visible during her pageant participation by clipping onto her bikini, then put a picture of herself wearing it on her Facebook page.

"I have had a million new opportunities to spread the word about diabetes and overcoming obstacles!" she says.

She quickly became a social media sensation, with thousands of page likes and shares.

She has created a Twitter hashtag #showmeyourpump and that garnered thousands of photos of Twitter users and their own insulin pumps.

"I would never have dreamt of posting a swimsuit picture on social media, but diabetics from all over the country have been asking to see me and my insulin pump on the Miss Idaho stage," she wrote on her Facebook page.

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