Kirsten Haglund was crowned Miss America in 2008 but the road to that achievement was a potted and broken one. Her biggest obstacle was a battle with anorexia which troubled her for four years prior to the pageant.
The former Miss Michigan said the eating disorder began when she was just 15 years old.
“There is a lot of pressure and extra stress in a college student’s life.”
“Many young women struggle in this diet culture … it’s like a big melting pot, which can lend toward the formation of an eating disorder.”
Her strict dance schedules in lowered self esteem in the midst of a traumatic puberty drove the young Haglund towards a strict eating regimen. Unfortunately it wasn’t a balanced diet and her health declined, her weight dropped alarmingly and her menstrual cycle ceased.
She could no longer give her all to her love of ballet and she descended into a state of severe depression.
“The lie that nobody ever tells you is that I thought I was supposed to be happier and stronger by dieting and losing weight, but that is just not true. All of these things that were supposed to be getting better by dieting were getting worse.”
Her parents noticed she was getting progressively thinner and they eventually took her to see a doctor who diagnosed her condition as anorexia.
She endured some terrible physical problems including a much slower and erratic heart rate as well as the pronunciation of her skeleton through her thinning skin.
“I would feel fatigued walking up six stairs,” she said.
“I was a completely different person. It’s not a pretty sight.”
She never disclosed her weight during the competition, despite having an amazing figure, because she didn’t want to set standards for young women obsessed with losing weight.
After being crowned Miss America in 2008 she still tirelessly works to raise awareness about eating disorders and a distorted self image which a rapidly growing number of young people are affected by these days.
In her own words: “Eating disorders have become an epidemic these days.”