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Tasha Jay from MAFS UK opens up about her Type 1 Diabetes

Words by Abi Scaife

She was Married at First Sight, now she’s speaking up about her own struggles - meet Tasha Jay. Known for her loyalty and strength in Married at First Sight UK Season 8, Tasha is opening up about her journey with Type 1 diabetes - and where it will take her next.

“I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was two and a half, so I don't really know life without it,” explains Tasha, whose brother and sister have also been diagnosed with Type 1.

According to the NHS website, Type 1 diabetes is “a lifelong condition where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin”. It differs from Type 2, where the body doesn’t make enough insulin - or the insulin it makes doesn’t work.

Only 10% of people with diabetes in the UK have Type 1 - Type 2 is much more common, and, therefore, spoken about more widely. For Tasha, the lack of media attention on Type 1 diabetes was incredibly difficult growing up - and it’s something she needs to change.

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“My whole life growing up with [Type 1], I would always say, I'd be watching the news or whatever. There would always be stories about diabetes - but it would be Type 2. It was never ever spoken about - ever!” Tasha tells Smiley News.

“Today, I still don't think I've ever seen anything on TV where someone's spoken about [Type 1] in depth.”

Tasha opened up to her husband, Paul Liba, and her fellow castmates on Married at First Sight about her Type 1 - and though they didn’t always get it right the first time, she fondly remembers their eagerness to learn. 

“The cast members learning about it, and Paul finding out about it - that that was such a massive moment on the wedding day,” admits Tasha. “It was incredible - so empowering, and so beautiful.”

Unfortunately, for reasons Tasha doesn’t entirely understand, the moments where she opened up about her Type 1 diabetes were not included on MAFS. Today, she is determined to make a difference using her own platform to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes, and all the highs and lows that come with it.

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"Don't be ashamed."

One of the highs has been the response to Tasha sharing her story on social media. A video of Tasha dancing while administering her insulin at a brunch went viral with 5 million views on TikTok - and since then, the stories keep flooding in.

Tasha says: “Some of the stories have been so deep and emotional. There was one lady who had lost her son to diabetes - I was in tears.”

“I'm a stranger to her. And she is a stranger to me. And she felt comfortable enough to tell me that and thanked me for speaking about it in public. I just can't believe people put their faith and trust in me to be a voice for Type 1.”

For Tasha, these messages - whether they are celebrating her as an advocate, commiserating over frustrations and losses, or asking for advice - show her why her voice is important. It is proof that people need a role model to look up to, to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes and how it changes your life.

“I would just sit and cry at their messages because people are thanking me and telling me their stories or their children's stories,” explains Tasha. “And I thought, ‘This is why I want to do it.’ I’m just Tasha, but I’m a voice for them and their friends and family. And that's just incredible.”

“It's very, very common - so why are we not speaking about it? It needs the attention, and it needs the awareness.”

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Supporting her MAFS castmate JJ.

Tasha opens up about her friend and MAFS castmate, JJ. At 31, JJ was suddenly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and turned to Tasha for help.

“No one speaks about [Type 1], so no one knows about it. It was a massive shock for him,” explains Tasha. “I was there for him, every single day - he's the reason I went and got the Libre because I didn't want him to feel alone.”

The Libre is a device that monitors your blood sugar, sending the results to your phone. It means that you no longer need to prick your fingers and take a blood-based reading. It is an incredible piece of technology that has revolutionised the diabetic experience.

“I had his back because it's a lot to deal with. It's a massive life change,” adds Tasha. “People think because diabetes is quite common that it's manageable, like asthma, but it's not.”

“It's a massive, massive life change, and you don't realise how many things it affects.”

Tasha was initially hesitant to get the Libre, in part because she didn’t want her career as a model to be negatively affected. Now, though, she is wearing her monitor loud and proud - and couldn’t be happier about it.

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“I never wanted it before MAFS because I knew it would stop me from getting certain jobs,” she explains. “But now there’s so much diversity in the modelling industry - if they stop me from doing a shoot because of [the monitor], then I don't want that shoot.”

“If it just gives one person a little bit more confidence, I want to be that person. I want to make people realise ‘you are amazing’. Our injections and our Libras - they are our superpower!

You’re still, beautiful and still amazing. Be confident with it. Don't be ashamed.”

Type 1 really is Tasha’s superpower - and it’s a power she’s using for good. With the latest MAFS reunion in her rearview mirror, she is focusing on what she can do to impact others, enact positive change, and raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article. 

Diabetes UK. Diabetes UK are the leading charity for people living with diabetes in the UK. Their vision is a world where diabetes can do no harm. Learn more here.

Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation. DRWF was established in 1998 to raise awareness of all types of diabetes and associated complications; provide information and support. Find out more.

The InDependent Diabetes Trust. IDDT is a charity for people living with diabetes. We raise awareness of issues for people with diabetes and provide information in non-medical language. Support them.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Good Health and Wellbeing, Reduced Inequalities and Partnerships for the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs