“My platform is all about combating injustice, which can rear its ugly head in many forms. For years, I have contributed to many organizations that protect human rights, and that fight to eliminate bullying as well as animal cruelty. I believe that you don’t need to be a lab rat to support animal rights, just as you don’t need to identify as LGBTQ to support human rights and want to end bullying. I believe that if people see someone outside of the brand fighting for change, they will be encouraged to take action as well.”
World Class Beauty Queens Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen Audrey McGowan Miss American Nation 2018.
Full name: Audrey McGowan
I began competing in 2012, when I decided to dive right in to the Miss New Jersey USA pageant which consisted of over 100 contestants. I grew up watching Miss America and Miss USA on television, and it was always something I had on my bucket list. So, when I received a flyer in the mail, I thought it was a bout time I take that step. With so many other contestants, I had no expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many wonderful young women with whom I still keep in touch today. After that, I slowly began to take competing more seriously, using it as an exercise in self-appreciation and acceptance. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and body image issues, it was an exciting kind of difficult for me to stand on a stage and be judged. It forced me to develop a level of confidence that I never though I would achieve, and to love the person I saw in the mirror, no matter what she looked like. I found that no matter how hard you train, or how prepared you may be, it is still easy to find a flaw in your appearance. When the big day comes and you have only minutes before you take to the stage, you have no other option but to embrace who you are and sell yourself as a star.
ANP is a GREAT system! They communicate with you from the day you sign up, and make sure you have everything you need to feel confident and prepared on the day of the pageant. It is run by an amazing mother-daughter duo who are friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Most importantly, it is not just a Beauty competition. This system really emphasizes the importance of being a genuine, well-rounded person who contributes to society.
Every step of this competition I felt valued and understood. When my house burned to the ground in November, Miss Debbie and Miss Sasha were so accommodating with payments and deadlines, and they even mailed me a replacement contestant sash and crown. In addition to the way the competition was run, I was also impressed by the quality of each contestant. Every person I met in this competition was friendly, welcoming, and excited about the experience. I made some great friends and I am very thankful to ANP for that.
There was a private interview with the judges before the on-stage portion of the pageant, then we each competed modeling evening wear, swim wear, and fun fashion (any outfit of our choosing to show off our personality). There was also an on-stage question which would only be judged in the event of a tie.
I enjoyed the interview portion. Although I do get nervous about what kind of questions I will be asked, I like to have the opportunity to voice my opinion and verbalize my beliefs. I would also say the Fun Fashion portion lived up to the name, and I even won the award for best Fun Fashion, so that made it even more fun!
This was just something I had always wanted to try from an early age. I know that pageants receive a lot of criticism, but I felt there must be more to them than just judging women based on their looks, and I wanted to break that stereotype and show that you don’t need to fit a certain mold to win. Crowns are one-size-fits-all!
I prefer to do some research on each pageant before I sign up, and I like to weigh my options. ANP seemed like a welcoming opportunity for my own brand of beauty to be recognized and celebrated, which is important to me when choosing a pageant.
My platform is all about combating injustice, which can rear its ugly head in many forms. For years, I have contributed to many organizations that protect human rights, and that fight to eliminate bullying as well as animal cruelty. I believe that you don’t need to be a lab rat to support animal rights, just as you don’t need to identify as LGBTQ to support human rights and want to end bullying. I believe that if people see someone outside of the brand fighting for change, they will be encouraged to take action as well.
It feels unreal. I am so honored and thankful, and I really hope I can make a difference for them.
There is no better feeling than giving back to the community, and helping others who really need it. To know that you made a difference and changed a life is truly incredible, and something I will continue to do for the rest of mine. I’ve gotten to connect with people from all walks of life, hear their stories, and share mine. People I may never have met without volunteering for their cause have become people I will never forget.
One thing I am proud of is being a founding Sister of the Kappa Beta Gamma Sorority’s chapter at my school when I was an undergraduate student. We were the first Sorority on campus, at a time when Greek Life was not yet recognized, or really even accepted by the community. After countless meetings and late-night planning sessions with my fellow Sisters, as well as our brother Fraternity and a new Sorority, we established a Greek community on the Caldwell College campus for future students to enjoy. As founders, we made sure that a strict No-Hazing policy was followed, and that our doors were opened to all young women. I feel that this set a welcoming precedent that I was satisfied to leave behind as my legacy when I graduated.
I just attended a Zumba fundraiser for Lupus Research, and am looking forward to marching in the Flag Day Parade along side United States Military Veterans in Manhattan in a few days. I have also begun to visit and personally thank all of the fire departments and first responders who came to my aid during my house fire in November, and take photos with them to publicize their heroism and the importance of fire safety. Not bad for my first week, huh?
I had the opportunity to model in a fashion show for Geiger Clothing Co. which took place in Killington, Vermont. I have also had a few small roles as an extra in film projects a music videos, and I would love to dive deeper into that industry!
Education plays a big role in my life. As I said, I am employed full-time at the University I attended, and my position is in the Education Division, so I get to work closely with current and future teachers. I see how hard they work and how important good quality education is. I wish everyone could have the Educational opportunities that I had. Not only in the traditional sense of attending a good college, but also in the real-world experiences that I have been fortunate enough to have. We can learn so much from the world around us, whether it be travelling to another country or volunteering to building something you’ve never attempted before. Learning is not restricted to a classroom setting and I believe everyone should have the opportunity to recognize and appreciate that.
My gown is from JS Collections. On the day that I found my gown, I was not really even looking for anything specific, but when I saw this one on the mannequin, it struck me as something Audrey Hepburn would wear to prom, so I knew I had to have it. I tried it on, and there was only one in my size so it just seemed right.
I kept reminding myself of the night before, when we rehearsed with the 2017 Queens. I ran their tips and suggestions over and over in my head…Don’t rush your walk…remember to smile…hold your pose. After the rehearsal, I had a long talk with one of the other contestants, Aja. We vented about our insecurities and came to the conclusion that we don’t have any choice but to embrace our looks. I wasn’t going to lose 20 lbs. overnight, and she wasn’t going to wake up with straighter teeth, but we are still beautiful. Worrying about the things we can’t change would only hurt our chances and our self-esteem, but if we focus on our positive attributes and just have fun, that will shine brighter than our insecurities. I guess it worked!
Are we sure they did call my name as the winner? It felt so unreal! It was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life, and I felt like I needed someone to pinch me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming…then my heel caught an extension cord and I knocked over the projector after taking my first walk as Queen and I thought ‘Yep, this is real. That would only ever happen to me!’ Still, thinking of that moment brings a smile to my face every time.
To me, the crown and sash symbolize opportunity. Not only because I know this title will open a lot of doors for me personally, and serve as an outlet for me to expand my work with my platform, but because they are also a reminder of the opportunities that we have here in the United States. There are many countries where women can’t even go out in public unchaperoned, much less walk across a stage in heels and a bikini, and where they don’t even have shirts or shoes, so you can forget about evening gowns. The crown and sash show me that women in this country are respected and valued. Sure, we still have a long way to go before we may feel that we are treated as equals to men, but we’ll get there.
To me, being a Beauty Queen means that you have layers of beauty that are rooted in your personality and visible in your interactions with others. It means that you are a role model, and you use your status to help others, give back to the community, and spread joy. In the end, it has very little to do with physical beauty.
Like most people, I am not always happy with the way that I look. I suffer from anxiety and depression, which make it hard for me to feel confident or ambitious, or even to get out of bed some days. Competing in pageants gives me a clear set goal to work toward, and incentive to put myself out there and just try my best. Being on stage is both exhilarating and terrifying, but I am always proud of myself for trying when it is over, and I make great new friends in the process. It isn’t always easy, but it works for me.
Competing in pageants has definitely made me more accepting of myself; my looks, my flaws, my brand of beauty. It has also given me a chance to voice my opinions on major issues and I feel that this title and the exposure will open doors for me to make an even bigger impact with my platform. Competing has also given me an outlet to meet new people and make connections that I might not have had otherwise. Any 20-something will tell you that making new friends can be nearly impossible after college, so pageants are a way for me to meet other women in my age group with similar interests, and we end up forming a solid friendship in a short amount of time.
I am going to live every minute of this year to my full potential. I want to make as many appearances as possible to spread publicity for worthy causes. I plan to draw more attention to big issues like bullying and animal cruelty, and get more people to actively fight for justice in our country, no matter how small their contribution may seem. I want to inspire young people to love themselves and believe that they can do anything – even win a pageant! I plan to make the most out of being crowned Miss American Nation 2018, and to leave my mark on the community.
I hope my legacy is one of positive change and advancement. I hope when the time comes for me to crown the next Miss American Nation, I can look back on my year and see that I have made a difference. Whether it be helping a charity reach their fundraising goal, or inspiring a young girl to enter her first pageant, or to run for Class President (and seeing her win)! I hope that I leave behind a legacy that will continue to benefit the community and individuals on a personal level long after I hang up my crown and sash.