Teresa Scanlan, 17, became the youngest woman ever crowned Miss America at the Planet Hollywood finale in Las Vegas last night. The Gering, Nebraska native, who was home schooled through her junior year before transferring and graduating from Gering High School, said her personal mission as the pageant winner is to help women prevent and conquer eating disorders.
Lindsey Hall, author of Bulimia: A Guide to Recovery, said eating disorders are closely connected to relationship struggles, “The very nature of an eating disorder prevents the development of relationships.” Hall said. “How could I have a relationship with someone based on honesty and truth if I was constantly lying about how much I ate, didn’t eat, exercised, or purged?”
Hall said learning to create healthy relationships was key to overcoming her eating disorder.
“When I am in love or working on intimacy, my eating habits normalize,” Hall said, “but when I have no close relationships or involvement with others, I feel like I am starving. Food reduces the anxiety, and masks the feelings. Only working on intimacy stops this pattern. For me, relationship-building is essential to recovery.”
After winning the title of Miss Nebraska, Scanlan announced that she was deferring the start of her studies at Patrick Henry College to fulfill her duties. The talented Nebraska beauty, who wowed judges and an international audience with her piano performance of “White Water Chopsticks,” now has 12 months to bring increased attention to the challenges faced by an estimated eight million Americans who suffer from eating disorders.
The same courage Miss Scanlan showed as the only contestant in the Miss America pageant to neither sing nor dance will undoubtedly guide new approaches to inspire greater awareness and resources for the mission that inspires her.
You can send the new Miss America a note of congratulations or share your personal story about facing or overcoming an eating disorder by writing to her at: 2720 Applewood Road, Gering, Nebraska 69341.
See the YouTube video below for Teresa Scanlan’s performance of “White Water Chopsticks” two years before winning the Miss America crown.