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Dylan MacKay

Modelling for a good cause

May 29, 2024 — 

Dylan MacKay, assistant professor in the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences and Department of Internal Medicine (Section- Endocrinology) typically spends his day exploring the intersection of nutrition and health, especially as it relates to chronic diseases like diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

This June however, he will step out onto the catwalk to try his hand at modelling.

Diabetes Canada presents the 2024 Pump Couture Fashion Show, an evening dedicated to changing the conversation around the stigma of living with diabetes through a fun night of fashion and fundraising. Six shows have been scheduled for across Canada, with one in Winnipeg planned for June 20. We caught up with Dylan to learn more about his involvement with the event.

What is the Pump Couture Tour?

It is a tour of fashion shows in various cities across Canada that feature models who live with diabetes and fashions that show off and normalize the medical devices people with diabetes often have attached to their bodies, like continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and insulin pumps. The fashion shows raise money for D-Camps, which are a program run by Diabetes Canada where kids with type 1 diabetes can experience summer camp, but in a safe where there is medical supervision and other kids who live with type 1 diabetes.

What is your connection with diabetes?

I actually diagnosed myself with diabetes when I was 13. I saw a Diabetes Canada ad in the newspaper and told my mom I thought I had diabetes. I had just finished drinking 2 liters of water when I saw the add, and I was still thirsty, the add said “are you thirsty all the time?” because this is a symptom of diabetes. I went to my family physician the next day and they did a test and my life changed.

How has this shaped your education/career path?

I think having type 1 diabetes strongly influenced what I do. I do nutrition research in humans and my research focuses on chronic conditions like diabetes. I think having a chronic condition myself gives me a uniquely person-centered perspective on my research and I also think it pushes me to not just do the research but to advocate for things that will improve the lives of the people who live with the conditions that I research.

Why is this event important to you?

I think being in a fashion show as a middle-aged dad is going to be a lot of fun. Also, I never went to sleep away summer camps as a kid, and I would imagine it would have been very dangerous after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, so I think the idea of D-camps is amazing, not just for the safety and camp experience, but to be surrounded by other people with type 1 diabetes that you could learn from.

How can people participate?

People can buy tickets and come watch the show. It is in The Leaf at Assiniboine Garden this year on June 20. If people can’t make it to the show they can donate to the models in the show; the proceeds go to help funding D-camps this year.

Who are you wearing?

We don’t have our fashion designers all matched yet, but they will all be local Winnipeg designers that we will be wearing and the goal will be for the fashion to either directly show off the medical devices or be designed with accommodating medical device in mind. I am looking forward to seeing what I will be wearing, my pump and CGM are stuck to my body so I might have to be showing some skin.

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