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Clothing designer uses medical supplies as fashion, inspiration for diabetes education

Mo Regulinski speaks at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s Center for Endocrinology, Diabet...
Mo Regulinski speaks at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism about diabetes education.
Leha Byrd/University Public Affairs

Mo Regulinski’s clothing designs are eclectic, to say the least.  

A frilly, halter style, knee-length dress called “Perspective” adorns 300 insulin pump infusion sets tightly woven onto shiny, lime green fabric. Another she calls “Wings” is a white, orange and blue shawl, bejeweled with 500 syringes and 10,000 glucose test strips.

These unconventional accents are Regulinski’s artistic expressions that depict her lifelong battle with diabetes. In a presentation to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (CHoR) Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism team, Regulinski exhibited and discussed her clothing pieces as a way to bring awareness to diabetes and diabetes education, particularly for children. She named the clothing series “Regalia: Healing Avatars,” a nod to the popular anime series and a visual expression of the word avatar, meaning in this case an embodiment of a view of life.

“No longer can we look at diabetes as a disease,” she said. “We have to look at it for the power it brings to us.”

The hormone insulin helps glucose get into the cells of human bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Health complications associated with diabetes include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As adjunct faculty at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Regulinski teaches the “Teen Stylin’” program, in which middle and high school designers create “wearable art” clothing. In the same way, Regulinski says offering creative expression to young people battling diabetes can be therapeutic and can position them to mentor others with the disease.

In a cool, creative way, we can get kids to be really passionate about their health.

Diagnosed with diabetes at 3-years-old, Regulinski became legally blind in her left eye. At one point, doctors told her she would likely be dead by 35. Her grim health care experiences ended when she began treatment at VCU Health at age 36. Consequently, her goal is to inspire young people to live their best life with or without the disease.  

“We have to emphasize the power of not just living with diabetes, but healthy living,” Regulinski said. “In a cool, creative way, we can get kids to be really passionate about their health.”

Gary Francis, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, invited Regulinski for the talk and said her testimony was motivational.

“She’s empowerment for all people,” said Francis. “Her message is that you can find your passion and way of expression, even while having a chronic disease. You can express that in a positive way.”

For more information about Regulinski’s artwork, visit moregulinski.com.

Mo Regulinski stands with her piece “Perspective.”
<br>Leha Byrd/University Public Affairs
Mo Regulinski stands with her piece “Perspective.”
Leha Byrd/University Public Affairs

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Mo Regulinski’s clothing piece, “Wings.”
Mo Regulinski’s clothing piece, “Wings.”