Miss Universe officials remove age limit requirement

Miss Universe officials remove age limit requirement

Married women, divorced women, and now women of any age - the beauty pageant world is shaking things up again. 

Miss Universe winners Zozibini Tunzi and Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey
Miss Universe winners Zozibini Tunzi and Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey / Instagram (@zozitunzi)

Miss Universe officials have announced new changes to the pageant's rules. The organisation has removed its decades-long age limit, which prevented women over 28 from entering. 

From 2024, all women over 18 will be able to enter. R'Bonney Gabriel, the pageant's current title holder, made the announcement at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). 

She revealed the news at Tanner Fletcher's age-inclusive fashion show. 

"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. It’s a bold group of women in charge over here, and you know what, a lot of people tend to follow what we do — it’s nice to be a standard-bearer, and I’m proud that we get to do this," she told WWD in an interview.

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The announcement is a full-circle moment for R'Bonney. During the final ceremony held earlier this year, she was asked: "If you win Miss Universe, how would you work to demonstrate this as an empowering and progressive organisation?"

She answered that she would raise the age limit. 

"When I competed, the age limit was 28, and I was 28 at the time. So, my answer was that I think we should change this — 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 told WWD. 

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Miss South Africa has adopted some of Miss Universe's rule changes in the past, including allowing married women, divorced women, and women with children to enter.

The top 30 of the 2023 pageant, which was eventually won by Gauteng's Natasha Joubert, included two married women and one woman with a child. 

ALSO READ: Here's all the changes Miss SA will be implementing in 2023

It's unclear if Miss SA officials will also be dropping the pageant's age limit as well in the future. 

Bryoni Govender will be representing the country at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador on November 18. 

Read more about her journey here: Bryoni Govender is ready to take on the universe

Main image credit: Instagram (@zozituni)

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