Eating Disorder Hope and Kirsten Haglund Discuss #Metoo and Sexual Harassment

Kirsten Haglund of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation

Eating Disorder Hope: Hello, Kirsten Haglund! We would love to hear your thoughts about the sexual harassment and #Metoo media phenomenon that is really rocking the country right now.

Kirsten Haglund: I was so excited to see the #Metoo hashtag go viral because there are many women that I know personally, as well as myself, who have been the victims of sexual harassment or even worse sexual abuse.  It’s just got to stop!

It’s not only men in power, such as these very famous names that we’ve been hearing about lately – Bill O’Reilly & Harvey Weinstein.

There are many women that have been abused by men who are members of their family, men that they’ve dated, etc. These are not famous people. So, unfortunately, it often doesn’t pack the same punch when they tell their story.

For the #Metoo hashtag phenomenon to start, and for women all over the world to start sharing their stories and be empowered is truly incredible!

It also gave people, especially some men (please note men can be victims and victims of sexual abuse as well), a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem.

However, it has to be more than a hashtag. There has to be action and accountability for those who have been perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse.

We all need to make sure that we carry on this movement past this flurry of attention that it’s getting right now and make sure that we’re all alert and aware in our workplaces and our families.

In every situation, we need to be mindful and do our best to ensure sure that there are not more victims of this horrible sexual harassment epidemic.

Eating Disorder Hope: We wholeheartedly agree! Will you give us some tangible ways that we can all go out and do something positive to support and keep this movement going?

Kirsten Haglund: A root cause of a lot of this is the highly sexualized culture that we live in. I’m not someone who’s who’s saying that there can be no rated R movies or women can only wear dresses, etc. – I’m not that kind of person.

I believe that we’re all free in Christ, but we have to look at what we watch and listen to. Also, what we say and what we think about others.

There is so much casual, very sexual conversation that happens between men and women, and even among single-sex groups, all the time.

These might seem harmless in their context, but when you repeat this kind of conversation or watch these things or it becomes just a part of everyday life people can become desensitized.

So, the line can become blurred of just talking about something versus actually sexually harassing someone.

It’s important for us all to self-assess:

  • What am I saying?Mother And Daughter Flashing The Peace Sign
  • Are the conversations that I’m having with people edifying?
  • Did they build people up?
  • Am I talking about things that are truly noble and beautiful?
  • Is what I am saying going to help someone or is it just good for a laugh?

We all can take personal responsibility in what the conversations consist of.

We really have to focus on the issues that young women face today. One big issue is Instagram and the way that girls pose and dress on Instagram. Also concerning is lack of scrutiny of the friends that they accept.

This is an area is just right for sexual harassment and abuse. So many girls, at younger and younger ages, are putting themselves out there in ways that are unbelievable.

Girls that are 10, 12, 13 years old, and even younger in some cases, presenting themselves in a very sexual way. They likely will never know who’s online and looking at those pictures.

For young men, it’s pornography. It is an epidemic nowadays. Boys as young as eight years old are consuming pornography.

As I said earlier, it creates a culture where these things are normalized, and the line between what is everyday behavior vs. sexual harassment or abuse is very blurred.

We as a society have to realize that this is not just something that happens out there. We are a part of creating this culture, and so we need to also be responsible for it.

Eating Disorder Hope: Well said! In terms of eating disorders, addictions, and all behavioral health struggles – how does sexual abuse or being harassed sexually impact people? Do you think it sets
them up to develop issues later on with these kinds of struggles?

Kirsten Haglund: It is key to understand that any kind of trauma, especially sexual trauma, can be a trigger for developing an eating disorder, addiction and/or self-harm behaviors.

It has such a deep effect on your sense of self-worth and value. When you have that kind of hole, a chasm opened up in your soul. You try to find a way to fill it. You try to find a way to cope and escape the incredible pain of that experience.

It is understandable. But, eating disorders, addictions, self-harm, etc. do not have to be the norm. There are healthy ways to cope with these things, processes by which you can get treatment and become whole and healed again!

Woman standing on river rocks It is important to understand that you don’t have to live in this darkness and despair forever. There is healing, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation. I don’t mean reconciliation with any one’s abuser or harasser. I mean reconciliation with yourself, with your sense of self, because that’s what really gets damaged in these situations.

I want to emphasize that treatment works, that recovery is possible, and that if you’re someone who’s struggling with this or you’re a family member who has a loved one who struggled not to push treatment aside.

Even if that person doesn’t want to continue to talk about the issue, encourage them to get help! Once they’re in a place where they feel safe, and they can talk and share what’s on their heart, it can get to a close where they’re a whole person again.

This is what I found through treatment. I want to see other people get through their struggles, too. I’m someone who can say with personal experience that recovery is possible and that treatment works!

We just need to make sure that this positive social movement doesn’t end with the #Metoo hashtag. We want people to continue talking about their struggles, whether it is:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Abuse
  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Addiction
  • Self harm

We want to support others in getting the help that they need so they can go on to live a healthy full and productive life!

Eating Disorder Hope: Absolutely! At Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope, our mission is to help people find hope, healing and effective treatment – all so that they can run with their God-given gifts and talents in life and contribute meaningfully to society.


Kirsten Haglund headshotKirsten Haglund served as Miss America in 2008 and now is proud to be the Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center and an “Ambassador” for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

As a television personality and commentator, Kirsten appears frequently on Fox News Channel, HLN, Fox Business Network, and Huff Post Live to comment on women’s health issues, celebrity culture, social issues, women’s empowerment and the millennial generation. She is an international speaker on women’s health and civic engagement, and has blogs featured regularly in industry journals, the Huffington Post and

Kirsten is also the Founder and President of the KirstenHaglund Foundation, which raises funds to provide treatment scholarships for families seeking recovery and freedom from disordered eating. Kirsten graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently based in New York City.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 27, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 27, 2017.
Published on