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Miss America’s Eating Disorder - Page 2

By McCarton Ackerman 09/13/12

When Kristen Haglund took the Miss America crown in 2008, it was after years of starving herself. Now she puts a pretty face on recovery from anorexia. 

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Haglund hearing she'd won Photo via

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After you won Miss America, you moved to Los Angeles to pursue an entertainment career but went back to college shortly after. Did you feel any of the same pressures in LA that you did as a ballet dancer?

Absolutely. It was largely why I left. The same mind traps or my eating disorder itself never tempted me but LA was such a toxic culture for me. I loved the performance world and after I healed, I really wanted to get back into it. But once I did, I not only found it to be superficial but I also knew that I had changed as a person since my time as a dancer. I wanted to live a full life where people aren’t obsessed with physical appearance. 

I now have one more year left at Emory University [in Atlanta] and am majoring in political science. I’ve always loved non-profits, both with my own foundation and the speaking and advocacy work I do with other eating disorder organizations, so I’d love to continue doing that. At the same time, I have some opportunities with broadcast news in New York City, so I’m not totally sure what direction I will go in after graduating. 

What advice would you give to people who are in recovery for eating disorders or considering getting help?

The biggest thing to realize is that you’re not alone. There are millions of people who struggle with this issue. Everybody has his or her own set of issues and nobody is fully recovered. Secondly, it’s okay to reach out for help. Isolation never helped anyone. Talk to someone, even if it’s a friend, and it might lead you to be motivated to reach out for professional help. And lastly, educate yourself. Get online and Google things and find out all of the available resources that are out there, both online and in your own community.

At this point, would you consider yourself to be fully recovered?

I’ve recovered in the sense that I’m physically healthy and fully aware of the truth about what constitutes living a healthy lifestyle. But do I have a past? Absolutely. So I’m mindful of that on a daily basis. I don’t think you’re ever fully out of the woods. 

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer currently residing in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Time Out New YorkThe Huffington Post, abcnews.com and usopen.org, among others. He has also written about Carré Otis and Celebrity Rehab, among many other topics, for The Fix.

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