Representing the Magnolia State
It takes a lot of preparation and dedication to become a Top 15 contestant in the annual Miss USA competition. Bailey Anderson, Miss Mississippi 2021 and Hurley native, recalls the moment she reached that threshold in November. “I was so overwhelmed with emotion… It was a full-circle moment to see that hard work come to fruition.” It was a dream she’d nurtured for a lifetime; as a little girl, she wanted to be just like the beautiful, accomplished pageant queens gracing the TV screen. Now, she is decidedly one of those queens – and has learned a lot on her journey to win the crown.
Bailey loved the glamour and grace of the pageant circuit as a child, but now she enjoys competing for different reasons. For Bailey, serving Thanksgiving at the Iron Gate food bank in Tulsa was the most rewarding portion of this year’s competition cycle. “It was such a weird feeling to not be home for the holiday, but serving meals to others made it even more meaningful,” she says. She also cherishes the community of like-minded women Miss USA has brought into her life. “I love the friendships that are formed through the process,” she says. “I have always said that if you walk into a pageant with only the idea of winning in your heart, then even if you win, you will lose.”
Being surrounded by these strong women has benefitted her in more ways than one. “One of the greatest lessons of empowerment I have learned through my participation in pageants is the ability to walk in self-confidence. I once walked into a room of other beautiful, intelligent women and second-guessed my worth. Because of the confidence that pageantry has instilled in me, I know that I am no less important or special than any woman standing next to me.”
Her reign as Miss Mississippi has given her a platform to raise awareness for causes she cares about. Given her background as a nurse for newborns, she has partnered with the Mississippi Health Department to form the Healthy Moms and Healthy Babies of Mississippi program, which addresses “the severely low rate of prenatal care in our state’s pregnant mothers.” She also advocates for the Alzheimer’s Association of Mississippi. “My grandmother Nay-Nay suffers from the disease, so the cause is near to my heart,” she says. “I love being a part of a group that is working to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s in hopes of one day finding a cure.”
What’s next for Miss Mississippi? “I am currently a newborn nurse and plan to continue that because I love what I do,” she says. “However, I plan to pursue a modeling career and opportunities as an entertainment correspondent as well. I ultimately want to be open to whatever opportunities come my way. I hope that in the next five years, I shock even myself at what I am able to accomplish.”
Whatever comes next, she’s cherished her time representing the Magnolia State. “I have visited so many states, and I truly feel that we have some of the kindest people. To represent my state and wear Mississippi across my chest was the greatest honor.”