Former Miss America Continues Advocacy Work

Post a Comment » Written on February 19th, 2009     
Filed under: News
LOS ANGELES, CA (February 19, 2009) – Kirsten Haglund, who until last month was the reigning Miss America, has started a foundation to continue her work of combating eating disorders.

Hospitalized as a teenager for anorexia, Haglund chose to raise awareness of eating disorders as her personal platform issue. A primary objective of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation is to provide funds to women and girls who do not have insurance that covers their treatment. Some actually go into bankruptcy while trying to pay for treatment, she says.

Haglund plans to provide resources through the foundation as well. She will write a blog for the site and hopes to recruit other writers who are recovering from eating disorders.

During her reign, Haglund corresponded with women and girls who were undergoing treatment for eating disorders. Being Miss America was great platform for talking about the issue because she was able to demonstrate that people can recover, Haglund says.

“People want to see success stories,” Haglund says. “The media hasn’t always covered eating disorders in positive ways.”

Haglund will continue to spread a positive message when she returns to Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan, for a weekend celebration March 11-12. “My church has been so supportive of me throughout the year,” she says.

Haglund will sign autographs and will speak both nights about her spiritual journey as Miss America. “We hope that this will help bring people to the church,” she says. “We really want this to be an outreach.”

“People want to see success stories….The media hasn’t always covered eating disorders in positive ways.”

Relying on God provided Haglund a sense of stability throughout the year when much of her hectic life was planned for her. She was able to call friends from her hotel room, but  “You don’t have people to be with on a daily basis,” she adds.

She relied on her faith to give her courage. Haglund was just 19 when she won the crown, and the demands of the title were sometimes overwhelming.

“I was in a lot of situations where I was very intimidated, where I didn’t know if I had the knowledge or the capability to speak where they wanted me to speak, or to help people I wanted to help,” Haglund says. “I knew that maybe I wasn’t qualified, but God put me there, and showed me that ‘I put you there for a purpose.’ ”

In addition to growing spiritually, Haglund also became more involved in political action throughout the year. “I’ve always been a big politics nerd, and my dad and I were always debating politics but I was never personally involved [before],” she says.

This Monday, she will speak at the Michigan capitol to promote the “World Wide Charter for Action on Eating Disorders” as part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. She also plans to lobby for the Federal Response to Eliminating Eating Disorders (FREED) Act. The act will create centers dedicated to research collaboration, provide for evidence-based standards of care, and establish education and prevention programs for medical professionals and schools at all levels.

For a previous story on Haglund when she became Miss Michigan, click here.

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