I’ve been thinking lately about self image for women wearing pumps. For 24 years I used multiple daily injections for a variety of reasons but mostly, because I didn’t want to wear a piece of medical equipment on my body.
I am like many women, self conscious about all kinds of body parts. My feet are too big, my boobs are to small, my butt is too flat and my shoulders are too slumped. On the flip side, my eyes are a nice color, I like my long fingers and I am proud of my overall fitness level. I’ve worked hard to accept myself for who I am (not who I wish I could inject myself into), because I struggled with an eating disorder in the past. At 40 years old, I think I’m the most satisfied with my physical self then I’ve ever been.
But when I look at my naked body, the Omnipod stands out. It’s all I can see. I don’t focus on the parts that are “beautiful,” I focus instead on this white, egg shaped piece of medical equipment.
In the last month I’ve interviewed and talked with several women about wearing the pump and it’s made me think about our personal and cultural discomfort around visible signs of illness. Heather Shields is running for Miss California USA and says she will remove her pump for the bathing suit competition. She is a lovely, smart young woman who is raising money for JDRF and I can’t fault her for choosing to remove the pump because if I were in her position, I’m sure I’d do the same thing. When Nicole Johnson won the Miss America competition in 1999, she removed her pump during the bathing suit competition as well.
I don’t like to wear my Omnipod in the summer and I really don’t like to wear it to the beach. I feel like everyone is staring and even though I do my best to convince myself that it is not that noticeable, I saw a photo my mom took of me at the beach with the kids and it was very obvious. I know this is something I have to get over. And maybe one day I will. Maybe on day an attractive woman in the spotlight will wear her pump on stage and slowly, medical equipment will seem a little more acceptable. (Maybe one day they’ll figure out how to make a smaller one! Here’s to optimism!)
In the meantime, I think all of us women with diabetes need to band together and show off our pumps. I think we need to transform the image of wearable medical equipment from unsightly and unattractive to a sexy, lifesaving piece of plastic.
I should add that I don’t know what I’m proposing exactly except that I’m thinking along the lines of a naked calendar, like Victoria’s Wild Woman Press, but it would be women (not men) and they would be showing off their pumps.
Okay, so I’m not exactly naked but it’s a start…..