Inspiring stories make a real difference in diabetes management, and there is one profession that is full of them – modelling.

Diabetes can prevent people entering certain professions, but modelling is not one of them. In fact, this is one career which can make people feel proud to be a member of the diabetes community.

Earlier this month, The Scarborough News reported on seven-year-old Vanessa Larkham – a type 1 diabetic of four years – who plans to model in October at the Face of the Globe pageant.

Vanessa wears an insulin pump on her leg and a continuous glucose monitor on her arm. According to Jody, her mother Vanessa wants to “raise awareness of diabetes and is going to show diabetics that they shouldn’t be embarrassed of their monitors.”

Vanessa will also be raising money for the Rainbow Foundation, which provides help and support to underprivileged children and their families.

The youngster reportedly got the idea after watching American model Sierra Sandison wear her insulin pump during a model shoot.

In 2014, Sierra went on to become Miss Idaho 2014, two years after being diagnosed with type 1. At first, Sierra was sceptical of wearing her insulin pump in public.

Before she walked out for the Miss Idaho contest, a young girl asked her about the pump attached to her bikini, which made her feel self-conscious. She did it, though, and ended up winning the competition.

“I realised that by hiding this so-called ‘flaw’ I wasn’t being fair to those girls watching me,” said Sierra. “I wanted to show girls that I’m not perfect. That I have a flaw and I’m not afraid to show it.”

To commemorate her success, Sierra shared a picture of her on stage with her pump and added the hashtag #showmeyourpump. The hashtag proved inspirational in encouraging others with diabetes to upload their own photos, and was backed by leading charity Diabetes UK.

Sierra’s triumphant story gained the supporter of another beauty queen, Kayla Fitzpatrick, a type 1 diabetic since the age of seven, who won Miss Coventry in 2014.

“Miss Idaho has started something fantastic, raising so much awareness for diabetes and the insulin pump,” Kayla said.

While the recent media attention for diabetic models has been broad, it was Nicole Johnson, in 1999 that made worldwide news for winning Miss America.

Nicole was not only the first to win the competition with type 1 diabetes, but the first to wear her insulin pump on stage.

Nicole’s story is further impressive as doctors told her, following her diagnosis, that beauty pageants could increase her stress levels, and should be avoided.

After her victory, Nicole sought to raise diabetes awareness across the United States, and later became an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

While modelling has produced several success stories for people with type 1 diabetes, its message can be applied to anyone with diabetes aspiring to follow their dreams.

If controlled well, diabetes management can be a minor part of your day-to-day life, leaving you more time to focus on what you want to achieve.


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