Katie Machia is 15 years old and has been living with type 1 diabetes for five years. As an aspiring model from upstate New York, Katie completed a training program and is represented through the Mary Therese Friel, LLC modeling agency in Rochester, NY. Katie has modeled in fashion shows and recently started modeling for commercial print work.
My first time on the runway with diabetes didn’t go as planned. I was just 11 years old and had been asked to model an outfit in a local high school fashion show. While I was able to walk on stage initially, I could not return for the final bow with the other models, because I was sitting backstage feeling like I was going to pass out. I had taken a shot through an insulin pen and it brought my blood sugar down too quickly.
I found it difficult to manage my diabetes when I was first diagnosed. I started off using syringes, and then later, insulin pens. But I soon realized there was more to think about besides the number of carbohydrates in meals and snacks. There was exercise, stress and even the weather. Sometimes I would leave a friend’s house or a party early, because I just didn’t feel well. There were times I would ask my mother to stay in the car in the parking lot, because I didn’t want her to be too far away if I didn’t feel well. I also didn’t look very healthy when I was first diagnosed. I was very pale and underweight.
Better Managing My Diabetes
So the modeling plans were put on hold while my family focused on finding a better way to manage my diabetes. We decided to try the Omnipod insulin pump, because I would not have to insert the needle myself and there would be no tubing hanging out. I also liked the fact that the PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager) could be pre-programmed according to my own insulin needs.
Everyone thinks my PDM is a cell phone, so I don’t look out of place when I’m using it to give myself insulin (every teenage girl I know usually has some type of electronic device in her hand). And since the PDM is also the blood glucose meter, there is more room in my purse for other items, including my always-present orange juice box and a snack.
Getting Back to Modeling with Diabetes
After I started using an insulin pump, I became more confident in managing my diabetes. Once I felt that my diabetes was better controlled, I decided to “go for it” and enroll in a model training program. Over the last year I completed the program that included classes in print and runway modeling, along with many other aspects of the business. I also did a photo shoot for my portfolio and started walking in fashion shows again. I just recently began doing some print advertisements as well, but I’m still very new to all of it!
One thing that hasn’t been an issue with the modeling is my pump itself. I’ve never had a problem with my Pod showing through my clothing, and since it can be used on different locations, I can move it to where it will work best with the outfit I’m wearing (sometimes the upper arm, other times the abdomen). As with outfits that I wear every day, I may have to be a little creative with the way the fabric folds or hangs, but it’s always worked well and nobody seems to notice that I’m wearing an insulin pump.
Most important, I just feel a lot better and look a lot healthier. I don’t look like “the sick kid” anymore!