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Miss Universe removes upper age limit for contestants

Miss Universe 2022, R’Bonney Gabriel from the US announced the major decision during the New York Fashion Week

For the first time in history, in a bid to empower women, the Miss Universe pageant has announced that it will no longer will an upper age limit for its contestants. This major decision was announced by R’Bonney Gabriel from the United States, who was the Miss Universe 2022 during the New York Fashion Week.

Coincidentally, R’Bonney Gabriel herself has the record of being the eldest women to become the Miss Universe. Gabriel who is currently 29, won the competition when she was 28. During the time she won, the upper age limit of contestants was 28 whereas, the minimum age limit to enter the competition was at 18 years old. “Starting then, every adult woman in the world will be eligible to compete to be Miss Universe,” the official account of Miss Universe wrote on its Instagram.

Gabriel was also the first Filipino-American woman to win Miss USA — and the first Miss USA representative to be crowned Miss Universe in a decade. “What I love about Miss Universe is that they are always out first in line, looking for ways they can be more inclusive and better live up to the platform that they’ve designed for us,” Gabriel told a news agency. “A woman’s ability to compete at Miss Universe, or anything in life, shouldn’t be defined by her age. Age should just be a number,” she added.

R’Bonney Gabriel has herself been an advocate for age inclusitivity for quite some time now. During the question-answer round in the 2023 edition of the pageant, she was asked what change she would like to see made in the competition rule. Gabriel had then spoken about how she would like to see the age of eligibility increase.

“My favorite quote is ‘If not now, then when?’ Because I believe age should not define us,” Gabriel said at the time. “It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now — the time is now that you can go after what you want.”

The Miss Universe Organisation was first established in 1952 and then in 2022 was bought by Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender businesswoman for $20 million. During her ownership, Miss Universe has seen many changes and removal of many restrictions such as contestants who were married, divorced or pregnant were not allowed to participate. However, today they are also eligible to participate.

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