Argentina’s 60-Year-Old Beauty Contestant Sees Dream Shattered

8 days ago
Argentina’s 60-Year-Old Beauty Contestant Sees Dream Shattered

 

Alejandra Marisa Rodríguez, a hopital legal adviser whose entry into the competition had been cheered as a triumph over ageism in a youth-obsessed world, fell short of the Miss Argentina crown. But she did take home the title of “best face,” one of several pageant categories including best evening gown, best swimsuit and most elegant.

“As a result of what happened to me, I believe a new door has opened for many people who perhaps did not have it easy,” Rodríguez told The Associated Press backstage after the event, still dressed in her red cocktail dress with slits revealing her legs. “It was adventure and I had no expectations of this other than taking on a new challenge.”

A 60-year-old woman’s aspiration to become the oldest Miss Universe contestant in history faded amidst a whirlwind of sequins and selfies at Argentina’s annual beauty pageant on Saturday.

During the competition, she expressed her gratitude to all who supported her during her triumphant moment at the Miss Buenos Aires pageant last month. Following the removal of the age restriction by Miss Universe, her victory garnered widespread global media coverage, propelling her from relative anonymity to becoming a household name in her community.

In a flash, the understated lawyer from La Plata, located south of Buenos Aires, found herself sharing skincare advice with women eager to replicate her flawlessly smooth complexion. In addition, she assured the public that the saying “age is just a number” held true.

For the swimsuit portion of the Miss Argentina contest, Rodríguez chose a modest one-piece suit with a shawl draped over her shoulders, giving the crowd a shimmy as fans whooped and blew air horns.

But the judges preferred Magali Benejam, a 29-year-old actress and model from Cordoba who donned a skimpy blue bikini and sky-high stilettos to win “best swimsuit” and ultimately beat out the 27 other contestants to be crowned Miss Argentina.

 

“I’m so excited and so grateful to be here because the competition was not easy,” Benejam told AP. She will represent Argentina in Mexico City for the global competition in November.

Even Benejam’s victory would have been impossible a year ago, as the pageant had long capped the age of contestants at 28. This year, for the first time in its 73-year-history, the Miss Universe contest is welcoming any participant over age 18.

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

For decades, the Miss Universe pageant openly described itself as an extravaganza of unmarried women in their late teens and twenties strutting around for judges to rate their looks and personalities. As more and more people found that troubling, organizers realized how far the contest trailed behind the culture.

Over recent years, as #MeToo and social justice movements swept the globe, Miss Universe raced to persuade skeptics it was more about minds and spirits than bodies.

Yet, as the contest stressed empathy, confidence and authenticity as feminine ideals, the mentions of “young woman” remained in place, and with it, the ban on crow’s-feet.

While many women praised 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 sculptured features made her blend in with the younger cohort onstage.

“It’s contributing to a sense that everyone should be able to look like this, all 60-year-old women should have the appearance of youth and freshness, as if they were 25,” said Lala Pasquinelli, an Argentine feminist activist. “If they don’t, it’s because they aren’t willing to make the sacrifices.”

 


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