Eating disorders on the rise; Miss Washington promotes self-acceptance

RICHLAND, Wash. — In close to two months, Miss Washington 2021, Maddie Louder will step on the Miss America stage, celebrating their 100th year on December 16th in Connecticut.

Louder not only represents our state but is a role model redefining beauty and worth for young women and men. She travels the state promoting Radical Self-Acceptance and in a recent trip to the Tri-Cities shared her story of how she overcame an eating disorder.

“The college dance program I auditioned for told me that I would never be a dancer unless I lost a certain amount of weight. I wanted to prove them wrong, and that spiraled into an eating disorder,” said Maddie Louder, Miss Washington 2021.

RECENT: Reading for the Future: Mental Health Awareness

Louder is not alone; across America, 30 million people struggle with an eating disorder, according to the research published in the Psychiatric Epidemiology textbook.

Louder had to step on the scale three times a semester through the dance program, and her grade depended on her weight.

“You are looking into a mirror anytime you are stepping into the dance studio. There is a girl who can kick higher than you or turn faster or leap higher than you. So you always have that strive for perfection. And strive for excellence in the dance world.” -Maddie Louder, Miss Washington 2021

“I didn’t realize how sick I was until I started realizing the social circle I surrounded myself with was disseminating. I didn’t have any friends anymore, because I would isolate myself from social interactions and meals where other people were present,” Louder said.

She said after getting panic attacks whenever food was present, she realized that this was not ok, “I cannot keep living like this, and I need to get help.”

Three years later, after Miss America ended their swimsuit competition, she worked her way towards recovery.

“The number on the scale does not define their worth or their value as a human being. And they are worthy of so much more.” -Maddie Louder, Miss Washington 2021

Maddie Louder has dedicated her year as Miss Washington to redefining beauty standards through her speaking appearances promoting Radical Self-Acceptance. She is also a Certified Agency Affiliated Counselor at Opal Food and Body Wisdom, an eating disorder clinic in Seattle, and is currently applying for doctorate programs in counseling psychology.

Louder said one way parents can help their children embrace positive body images is through “broadening inclusive communities you place yourself in.” She suggests asking yourself, “Are the kids that are playing with your kids, are they all shapes and sizes and different backgrounds and ethnicities? The more we can branch into inclusivity and body shape and size, background, and gender identities, the more inclusive and accepting our society can be as a whole.”

Additional Tips for Parents: Helping children develop healthy body images

MISS WASHINGTON: To contact or book Miss Washington 2021, Maddie Louder visit:

You can also follow her journey on social media:

NEED HELP? If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and needs help, reach out to the National Eating Disorders Association. NEDA offers an online chat option, phone call, or text.

Phone lines are open at (800) 931-2237 (Monday—Thursday 11am—9pm and Friday 11am—5pm EST)

Reading Time with Miss Washington