60-Year-Old Miss Universe Hopeful Wins Best Face in Argentina Pageant

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In the glamorous swirl of sequins, smiles, and high-energy competition in Buenos Aires, a 60-year-old woman’s ambition to be the oldest Miss Universe contestant in history did not come to pass, on an electrifying Saturday evening at Argentina’s annual beauty pageant.

Alejandra Marisa Rodríguez – a seasoned legal adviser for a hospital – whose participation had been widely celebrated as a defiant stand against age discrimination in a society overly fixated with youth, did not manage to secure the Miss Argentina crown. Yet she notably departed with the esteemed title of “best face,” among many other classifications such as best evening gown, best swimsuit, and most elegant.

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Rodríguez had previously created a worldwide media storm, spurred by her success in the Miss Buenos Aires competition last month. This victory was brought about after a significant development saw Miss Universe abandon its longstanding age limit. Hence, this formerly unknown, mild-mannered lawyer from the city of La Plata, south of Buenos Aires, quickly found herself under the spotlight, freely sharing skincare advice for those aiming to emulate her unnaturally flawless face and firmly affirming that, indeed, age was purely a number.

Commenting on this experience, Rodríguez shared, “This represents a new entryway for many who perhaps were previously underprivileged,” in a backstage interview post-event, looking radiant in her alluring red cocktail dress. She added, “It was an adventure and my only expectation was to embrace a new challenge.”

During the swimsuit saga of the Miss Argentina contest, Rodríguez captivated the crowd in an elegant one-piece bathing suit adorned with a tasteful shawl, giving the crowd an entertaining shimmying performance, reciprocated with cheers and air horns from the exhilarated audience.

Nonetheless, the panel of judges was more taken by Magali Benejam, a stunning 29-year-old actress and model from Cordoba, who bedazzled the crowd while donning a daring blue bikini and towering stilettos. Benejam clinched the “best swimsuit” category and rose above the other 27 competitors to ultimately be bestowed with the Miss Argentina title.

Benejam will now advance to represent Argentina in the globally recognized competition in Mexico City this coming November. This would have been an improbable feat just a year ago, given the pageant’s long history of capping the age of participants at 28. However, in a groundbreaking move, this 73-year-old competition has introduced a new rule that allows any participant above the age of 18.

Over the years, the Miss Universe pageant has continually evolved, despite enduring feminist criticisms since the notorious “bra-burning” protests at the Miss America contest in 1968. For several decades, the competition proudly showcased unmarried women in their late teens and early twenties displaying their looks and personalities for the judges.

However, with the onset of global social justice movements, such as #MeToo, the Miss Universe event has worked tirelessly to distance itself from merely body-focused evaluations and place more emphasis on mental and spiritual attributes. Now, married, pregnant, lesbian, and transgender women are welcomed to participate, and any mention of outward “beauty” has been omitted from its website.

Yet, even as the contest reemphasizes empathy, confidence, and authenticity as exemplars of femininity, restrictions against “older women” persist, which has often dismayed the more mature female audience. Other passive-aggressively repressive features, such as the term “young woman” and the indirect barring of crow’s-feet, still remain in place.

The debut of Rodríguez in the contest at the age of 60 had split public opinion. While many lauded her decision, others pondered whether it propagated an unrealistic ideal for older women. With her award-winning visage, statuesque figure, and well-defined features, Rodríguez was capable of blending seamlessly with her younger counterparts onstage.

Lala Pasquinelli, a feminist activist from Argentina, echoed this sentiment, stating, “It’s advancing a notion that this should be the norm, that all 60-year-old women should exhibit the same youthful vibrancy and freshness as if they were still 25. If they fail to do so, it is apparently because they are not prepared to make the requisite sacrifices.”