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Former Miss America visits UA

Gordon+Bates+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0AKirsten+Haglund%2C+the+21-year-old+California+resident+and+2008+Ms.+America%2C+came+the+the+UA+rec+center+this+Monday%2C+Feb+18%2C+to+speak+on+behalf+of+Love+Your+Body+Day+and+to+raise+awareness+on+eating+disorders.+Kirsten+spoke+on+her+experiences+with+eating+disorders+and+the+overcoming+of+her+battle+with+personal+perfection.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Kirsten Haglund, the 21-year-old California resident and 2008 Ms. America, came the the UA rec center this Monday, Feb 18, to speak on behalf of Love Your Body Day and to raise awareness on eating disorders. Kirsten spoke on her experiences with eating disorders and the overcoming of her battle with personal perfection.

Kirsten Haglund, the 2008 Miss America, encouraged UA students to love their bodies and accept that they can’t please everyone. Students piled into the MAC gym in the Student Recreation Center to hear Haglund’s message Monday night.

According to Haglund, 30 percent of college women have eating disorders.

“”The saddest thing about eating disorders is it steals all joy from your life,”” Haglund said. Haglund developed anorexia through her involvement with ballet and said she began eating disorder behaviors at age 12 when she went away for the summer to an intense ballet school.

“”It was the most horrible experience of my life,”” Haglund said.

It wasn’t until three summers later that she got help.

During her struggle with anorexia, Haglund said she lost friends and became a shell of the person she used to be.

For the first six months of treatment, Haglund said she was in denial, but eventually she began to feel better.

“”Food becomes the best medicine,”” said Haglund who noted she enjoyed working with a nutritionist and having more energy.

Haglund said she became involved with pageants as a way to get scholarship money and did not expect to win.

“”I swear I did not put in any effort,”” said Haglund as she explained that her evening gown was her prom dress and her talent costume cost her $5.

According to Haglund, pageants gave her the opportunity to find encouragement through public speaking and an opportunity to share her experience with eating disorders.

“”The coolest part about the year (as Miss America) was that I got tested a lot,”” Haglund said. “”I was ripped apart for my appearance.””

Haglund said she could not believe how cruel people could be, and that she learned she would never please everyone.

Through Miss America, Haglund saw that people don’t look the way they are portrayed in magazines. Haglund saw herself digitally retouched, realized the images didn’t reflect reality and was able to ask on several occasions for the retouches to be removed because she felt she did not look like herself.

Haglund said she feels it is important for college students who are struggling or suspect someone is struggling with an eating disorder to get help.

“”People do die from these things,”” she said.

Haglund also stressed the importance of eliminating “”fat talk,”” which is obsessively talking about weight and being fat.

“”It’s so normal and commonplace, but it doesn’t have to be,”” she said.

Students said they were inspired by Haglund’s message.

“”I thought it was really touching that she could express such an emotional experience in her life,”” said nutritional science senior Rosie Thornton.

Former Miss Arizona and UA alumna Erin Nurss suggested having Haglund speak at the UA.

“”In all my interactions, I just found that Kirsten (Haglund) has such an important message,”” Nurss said.

Getting funding from eating disorder treatment centers to bring Haglund to the UA was simple, according to Gale Welter, coordinator of nutrition services and Campus Health Service.

“”They all knew of her and were thrilled to support her.””

Love Your Body Day also coincided with the Rec Center’s grand opening Monday. Welter said working with the Rec Center turned out to be a beautiful partnership.

In addition to Haglund’s visit, students were encouraged to fill out a healthy body image survey for Love Your Body Day as part of an annual national screening for disorderly eating, said Welter.

 

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