By Jess Margeson
As the reigning 2015 Miss Alabama, Meg McGuffin continues to prove that she is more than a pretty face. On any given day, the 22-year-old Ozark native and Auburn graduate speaks to a variety of student and community groups, raises money for a host of non-profits, all while remaining firm in her commitment to continuing her own education.
A former “Miss Auburn University,” McGuffin’s scholastic goals continue to expand and evolve. As she explains, “After my year of service, I plan on returning to Auburn University to finish my Master’s in Administration of Higher Education. I hope to ultimately obtain a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Harvard University (with plans to lobby for education reform later in life).”
The pageant circuit has appealed to McGuffin since childhood. At the ripe old age of 6, she was determined to compete after being inspired while watching The Miss America Pageant on television. Says McGuffin, “I started competing at a young age because I watched the Miss America pageant every year on television, and I told my mom I wanted to be in it!” Initially, pageant winnings were relegated to smaller items (like bikes and even a collection of Beanie Babies). Before long, real scholarship money was on the line, and McGuffin was poised to compete!
Eventually, she went on to enter the Miss America Organization at the age of 14 with the goal of obtaining scholarship money to fund her education. “I heard that there was scholarship money to be won, and being the daughter of a single mother, I knew that was imperative to continuing my education. Eighty-thousand dollars later I am Miss Alabama and the Fourth Runner-Up to Miss America 2016!”
McGuffin’s platform “Healthy is the New Skinny” seeks to promote healthy body images for women of all ages, and she continues to make appearances here on The Plains. McGuffin explains, “According to a recent study by the Reflections Body Image program, 54 percent of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat,” she says. “This is just absolutely astounding to me. It’s time that our society realizes that we have serious issues with body image, and I want to be a role model. I want to inspire people to love their bodies no matter what.” An avid dancer, McGuffin confides that the years spent in front of a mirror, in tights no less, comparing herself to her peers, did little for her own self-image, but credits a strong system with keeping her grounded. In the end, she hopes her platform does the same for others.
Asked what excites her most about representing Alabama and Auburn University on the national stage, McGuffin confides that she loves to shatter stereotypes. “Having the opportunity to break the stereotype that so many people have about Alabamians is so exciting to me. I enjoy showing the nation what Southern women are truly made of,” she says with a smile.