Miss Universe Organization scraps age limit among candidates
MANILA, Philippines — The Miss Universe Organization (MUO) appears to now subscribe to the maxim that age is just a number as it announced that it is dispensing with the age limit for candidates who wish to participate in the international pageant or its affiliated local pageants, beginning in 2024.
Starting in 2024, and in succeeding editions, the MUO said that “every adult woman in the world will be eligible to compete to be Miss Universe.” This move has now made the pageant the most inclusive international competition, edging out the Poland-based Miss Supranational pageant that raised its age limit to 32 in 2022.
“The Miss Universe Organization announces the elimination of all age limits across all Miss Universe associated pageants. This change will apply for all 2024 pageants globally.”
In a statement sent to INQUIRER.net, Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) Communications Director Voltaire Tayag said, “Miss Universe challenges traditional mindsets of what beauty is, and what it can do. It’s polarizing to say the least. Where does one draw the line between redefining beauty and having no standards at all? Personally, having grown up watching old school pageants, I’ve had to adjust my mindset to appreciate these changes.”
“For as long as these changes in pageantry motivate people to grow and inspire them to dream, then no number or statistic should stop them from pursuing a crown,” he said.
The removal of the age limits may be considered a wish come true for reigning Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel.
During the question-and-answer portion of the competition last January, Gabriel was asked what changes — aside from allowing mothers and married women to compete — would she like to see in Miss Universe, to which she replied: “(F)or me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old, and that is the oldest age to compete. And I think it’s a beautiful thing.”
“My favorite quote is ‘if not now, then when?’ Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now. The time is now that you can go after what you want,” she further said.
MUO has been revolutionizing international pageantry with moves that promote inclusivity. The organization started accepting transgender applicants in 2012 after then owner Donald Trump allowed trans woman Jenna Talackova to participate in the Miss Universe Canada pageant.
In 2018, Angela Ponce from Spain became the first transgender woman to qualify for the international stage after capturing her national title. Filipino-American model Kataluna Enriquez won the Miss Nevada USA crown in 2021, and competed in the Miss USA pageant that is under the MUO.
In 2022, even before Thai media mogul Anne Jakrajutatip acquired MUO, the organization had already announced that it will accept mothers and married women across all Miss Universe associated pageants starting in 2023.
For the 2023 Miss Universe pageant, its 72nd edition, transgender woman Rikkie Valerie Kolle will represent the Netherlands. There are also two mothers who will participate—Michelle Cohn from Guatemala, and Camila Avella from Colombia.
The three will join about 90 international delegates in the 2023 Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador in November. Model, actress, and pageant veteran Michelle Dee will represent the Philippines in the competition. EDV