Kirsten Haglund was thrust into the spotlight when she won the 2008 Miss America crown in front of more than 19 million viewers. But before she ever became an American icon, from the ages of 12 through 15, the Michigan native fought an extreme battle with anorexia. So determined was she to fit the dancer frame ideal that she lost 30 pounds as a pre-teen by subsisting on a diet of less than 900 calories per day.
When her parents forced her into a rehab facility, Haglund began learning the tools to overcome her anorexia and eventually recovered enough to begin competing in pageants. Then, when she won the Miss America crown, she used her platform to educate people on eating disorders and body image issues, eventually starting her own foundation. These days, she is a senior at Emory University in Atlanta and a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of eating disorders. In her exclusive interview with The Fix, Haglund speaks about the dance coaches who expressed concern for her, her brief attempt at pursuing an entertainment career post-Miss America and why she credits beauty pageants with helping her recover from her eating disorder.