"Growing up a fat kid, I certainly never envisioned myself as being Miss America," Carlson told ET. "One of my celebrity judges from Miss America wrote a scathing book about me the year after the pageant and he called me Miss Piggy throughout the book. He called me fat at 108 pounds, which I will never be ever again, and he also called me a God clutcher."
Despite her critiques, Carlson began climbing the ranks of broadcast journalism following her Miss America win, but in the early '90s, her career as a young on-air reporter turned dangerous.
"I had a four-year stalker who terrorized me in two different cities," Carlson said. "He also stalked my parents, and I basically lived every day fearing that he would find me."
Carlson received letters and even a diamond engagement ring from her stalker, who wound up serving 70 days in prison. It wasn't until Carlson learned of her stalker's death that she felt safe to reveal that part of her life.
"I knew how important it was to tell this story to try and help other women," Carlson said.
In her new book, Getting Real, Carlson also shares cautionary tales aimed specifically at women trying to break into the TV industry. One particular incident she says involved a public relations executive in Los Angeles.
"He basically took my head from the passenger seat and shoved my head into his crotch, and I couldn't breathe," Carlson said. "I lived with those secrets for a really long time and then it happened again in my real first job. I just want women to feel secure enough to come forward en masse, if this is actually still happening to them."