Monday, January 28, 2008

Miss America

Kirsten Haglund, just crowned the new Miss America, talks movingly about her recovery from anorexia at age 16 here.

She doesn't talk about how much she weighs, to avoid triggering other teens. She does talk about having curves, and liking them. She alludes to the horror of anorexia without going into other details.

I'm no fan of the whole Miss America pageant thing. Still, I'm with her right up until the line where she's quoted as saying that while she isn't about to "let myself go," she won't be skipping any meals.

Kirsten, you have the chance to do a lot of good as an emissary from the hellish lands of eating disorders. Please, next time, skip judgments like this. Remember that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that many of the young women you'll come into contact with this year will never, can never look like you. And that that doesn't mean they've "let themselves go."

Use your powers for good.


Unknown said...

I'm always glad to see helpful attention to eating disorders, but oh it worries me.

This could go either way. Getting the message out about eating disorders through the beauty pageant circuit is a little scary. And it depends a lot WHAT her message is. Will it be about the dangers of dieting and brain-based illness, or about finding your voice and control?

I'm hoping, but I'm worried that a 5'8" beauty queen is inherently carrying a mixed message.

Anonymous said...

I was flipping channels and came across the pageant - just as they eliminated the first round of women. The eliminated women went to sit on the opposide side of the stage, and literally were offered a tray of what the MC described as "carbohydrates" as consolation. The MC explained, twice actually, that now that they were done competing and didn't have to do the swimsuit competition, they could eat carbs. This brought lots of laughs from the audience and the other competitors. Quite the message they sent with that.

Harriet said...

Yes, it seems like way too much to expect for a beauty pageant to be a forum for real education around eating disorders.

On the other hand, maybe the new Miss America will find her voice and do some good.

I'm not too sanguine, though.

Anonymous said...

Harriet, I'm not exactly sure I understood your post. What judgement are you alluding to?

Harriet said...

The judgment implied in saying she's not about to "let myself go." As if gaining weight was a moral failing, or at the very least a laziness.

Anonymous said...

I really, really hate the "let herself go" line.

Because it seems like so often it's applied to women who have decided that they'd rather be content and nourished than constantly fighting their own bodies. Or it's applied to women who have accepted the normal aging process and will not go to expensive or painful means to make it seem that she isn't aging.

(Not that there's anything so WRONG with a woman choosing, for her own reasons, to dye her hair or have "work" done; it's just I get so tired of there being a "standard" we're all supposed to live up to.)