Photo: Drew Nash, AP

Sporting her insulin pump along with her sash and crown, the new Miss Idaho, Sierra Sandison, has been an inspiration for woman across the nation. As she moves on to compete in the Miss America Pageant, she will be one of few contestants to ever wear an insulin pump on stage —and yes, even during the swimsuit portion! Her hope is to showing the country that diabetes is not a condition to be ashamed of.

Sierra has quickly become a role model for many, and her story might inspire you to search for a healthy individual to look up to in your own life – perhaps one that can motivate you to make better decisions for your health and well-being. Below are some strategies to help you narrow the search for someone worth emulating.

Look beyond physical attributes

In a world saturated with media, you can find yourself surrounded by images of “beautiful people” who don’t necessarily reflect the greatest personality traits. Young women in particular tend to get caught up in the endless stream of celebrities flaunting their seemingly perfect bodies and getting into questionable shenanigans that make the tabloids. It’s important to go beyond physical characteristics and choose role models (male or female) who set an example through positive behaviors and beliefs, not trashy exploits and impossibly beach-ready bodies.

Rethink what’s average

We live in such a celebrity-obsessed culture; it’s easy to become disconnected from a realistic idea of what normal people look like. With so many stick-figure-skinny American icons, individuals can become convinced that their own bodies are not normal or adequate. For teens, this can lead to serious eating disorders that could otherwise be prevented if a more reasonable expectation of what men and women should look like was presented. Adults can make an impact too by recognizing negative body-image behaviors and admiring prominent figures who promote positive ways of feeling more beautiful.

Become your own role model

It’s important not to overlook yourself when you are in search of a role model. If you have kids, this type of perspective is even more important, since your children will look to you as an example of healthy behaviors before anyone else. Prove to yourself that you can be a role model by abandoning negative vices like smoking or regular drinking; then replace them with positive behaviors, like jogging or yoga. You might also change the language you use to describe yourself and others. When you put down others based on their physical image, this is likely a projection of your own insecurities. Make a change for the better by considering what you like about others, which will leave you thinking more about what you like in yourself too.

The world could use more positive influences, so start thinking about ways that you can inspire others and inspire yourself in the process. If you have a healthy role model that you look up to, share with us in the comments section below!


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