A 60-year-old beauty contestant’s dreams come to an abrupt end in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A 60-year-old woman saw her dreams of becoming the oldest Miss Universe contestant in history vanish in a blur of sequins and selfies Saturday at the annual Miss Argentina pageant.

Alejandra Marisa Rodriguez, a legal consultant at the hospital, whose entry into the competition was hailed as a victory over ageism in a world obsessed with youth, was unable to win the Miss Argentina title. But she did take home the title of “Best Face,” one of the competition’s many categories including best evening dress, best swimsuit and most elegant.

During the competition, she thanked everyone who celebrated her success in the Miss Buenos Aires competition last month. Her win there, after Miss Universe abolished the long-standing age limit, generated a wave of global media attention that took her from obscurity to local fame.

At one point, the soft-spoken lawyer from the city of La Plata, south of Buenos Aires, was dispensing moisturizing advice to women striving for a smooth, surreal face, promising the audience that there was truth to the old adage that age is just a number. .

“As a result of what happened to me, I think a new door has opened for a lot of people who may not have had things easy,” Rodriguez told The Associated Press backstage after the event, still wearing her red cocktail dress with revealing slits. Legs. “It was an adventure and I had no expectations other than to take on a new challenge.”

For the swimsuit portion of the Miss Argentina pageant, Rodriguez opted for a modest one-piece suit with a shawl draped over her shoulders, giving the audience a jolt as fans cheered and honked air horns.

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But the judges favored Magali Benjam, a 29-year-old actress and model from Cordoba, who wore a light blue bikini and heels to win “Best Swimsuit” and ultimately beat out 27 other contestants to be crowned Miss Argentina.

“I’m very excited and very grateful to be here because the competition wasn’t easy,” Binjam told the AP. She will represent Argentina in Mexico City at the global competition in November.

Even Binjam’s victory was impossible a year ago, because the competition limited the age of the contestants to 28 years. This year, for the first time in its 73-year history, the Miss Universe competition welcomes any participant over the age of 18. .

It’s just the latest in a series of changes to the pageant that has been a lightning rod for feminist criticism since the “bra-burning” protests upended the 1968 Miss America pageant.

For decades, the Miss Universe pageant has publicly billed itself as a glamorous showcase for single women in their late teens and twenties, strutting for judges to evaluate their looks and personalities. As more and more people found this troubling, organizers realized how outdated the competition was culturally.

Over recent years, as #MeToo and social justice movements have swept the world, Miss Universe has rushed to convince skeptics that it’s more about minds and souls than bodies.

It stripped away many controversial eligibility requirements, opening the door to married, pregnant and lesbian women And transgender womenShe removed everything mentioned about “beauty” from her website.

However, while the pageant emphasized compassion, confidence, and authenticity as feminine ideals, the reference to the “young woman” remained, and with it the ban on crow’s feet.

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While many women applauded Rodriguez’s decision to compete at age 60, others questioned whether she was setting an unreasonable standard for older women. Her award-winning face, statuesque figure and chiseled features made her blend in with the younger group on stage.

“This contributes to creating a feeling that everyone should be able to look like this,” said Lala Pasquinelli, an Argentine feminist. “All 60-year-old women should have a youthful and fresh appearance, as if they were 25.” “If they don’t, it’s because they’re not willing to make the sacrifices.”

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