Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund, is speaking out on the disorder that nearly cost her her life and with which she struggled for years. She developed anorexia at just 12 years old, but she is now fully recovered.
In fact, she says in a new interview cited by The Hollywood Gossip, it was her winning the Miss America crown that actually helped her put the disorder in the past, vouch to stay healthy and, at the same time, help others who might be in the same situation as she was.
Kirsten started to alter her eating habits when she was still very young, when she noticed that other girls in her ballet class were also doing it.
She wanted to fit in and she had noticed that “eating like a normal person” was frowned upon. So, she decided to eat like them.
“I was in ballet from just 3-years-old. So from a very early age, the ideal female body type was very thin. That was the first image I had,” she explains.
“I always equated beauty with being skinny. I looked at what they were doing and so many of them were throwing away their lunches and not eating. I thought, ‘If I can at least be thin, I know I can be successful at ballet’,” Kirsten goes on to say.
At one point, she was living mostly on soda and chewing gum. She would also read about tricks to avoid eating in public, and made sure she did everything “by the book” to deceive everybody around her.
“I was living off coffee, Diet Coke and gum. Every once in a while, I'd have vegetables, fruit or a spoonful of peanut butter. I knew there was something wrong , but I didn't know how to stop,” Kirsten explains.
Her parents eventually stepped in and forced her to get help.
However, her recovery effectively began when her mother enlisted her in a beauty pageant because, she says, suddenly she found others to relate and reach out to.
“It was a really good educational period for me. From hearing other people's stories, I learned how to share my own personal struggles,” she explains.
Kirsten is now a political science major at Emory University, and is choosing to speak out to help other women struggling with the same issue to see they need help.