Kirsten Haglund was crowned Miss America back in 2008, but she was hardly the vision of health and happiness she appeared to be, by her own admission.
The blonde beauty has suffered from severe anorexia-nervosa most of her life.
The Michigan native, 23, has opened up to CNN about the shocking details of her illness, which she says began to take its toll when she was only 12.
Haglund says she picked up bad habits from other aspiring ballet dancers.
"I was in ballet from just 3-years-old. So from a very early age, the ideal female body type was very thin," Haglund says. "That was the first image I had."
"I always equated beauty with being skinny. I looked at what they were doing and so many of them were throwing away their lunches and not eating."
"I thought, ‘If I can at least be thin, I know I can be successful at ballet.’"
"I was living off coffee, Diet Coke and gum," she said about her diet. "Every once in a while, I'd have vegetables, fruit or a spoonful of peanut butter."
“I knew there was something wrong , but I didn't know how to stop.”Her disease continued to worsen, and in the next three years, Kirsten dropped over 30 more pounds before her mother intervened and got her help.
After quitting ballet and focusing on recovery, she decided to enter a local beauty pageant - something that ironically helped her cope with the issue.
"It was a really good educational period for me," she said. "From hearing other people's stories, I learned how to share my own personal struggles."
The stunner has since started the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, a charity that provides financial aid to people seeking treatment for eating disorders.
She is currently a political science major at Emory University.