Miss Universe Revokes Age Limit for All Contestants
Initially, contestants were required to fall within the age bracket of 18 to 28, but with the removal of age limit, this restriction no longer holds. In recent years, Miss Universe pageants have evolved significantly, embracing LGBTQ+ communities, allowing mothers and married women to participate and now eliminating age limits, among other changes.
Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender rights advocate, now owns the Miss Universe Organization. Her vision prioritizes inclusivity, aiming to inspire future generations.
In 2023, Jane Dipika, a plus-sized contestant, achieved the title of Miss Universe Nepal and uses her platform to promote body positivity.
Various individuals, such as Josh Yugen, own different Miss Universe franchises in Bahrain, Pakistan and Egypt. In response to evolving rules, the organization is embracing women of all backgrounds.
R’ Bonney Gabriel, crowned Miss Universe in 2023, advocates for Asian-Americans, thus contributing to a diverse representation of societal beauty standards. As the oldest contestant at 28 and from a Filipino background, Gabriel expressed that aging is beautiful.
“The Washington Post” reported allegations by Miss USA Victory that Gabriel received special treatment, potentially violating the pageant contract. However, these allegations were investigated, and no additional information has been released.
After an investigation, it was concluded that Gabriel had won fairly. Still, the investigation remains ongoing. The “Post,” while politely wishing Gabriel best of luck, did not endorse the organization’s claims and opted not to participate in the ongoing investigation.
The amount of ridicule that Miss Universe contestants receive due to their appearance is absurd. Societal standards pressure models and pageant participants to fit a certain mold, but everyone should have a chance to compete, regardless of their looks.
A former contestant, Alicia Machado, was shamed by the former president of the United States and former co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, Donald Trump, because of her body size. Countless women are shamed for how they look due to the increasing pressure to conform to certain beauty ideals.
In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton used Trump’s quotes about Machado against him, advocating for Machado. Trump was accused of pressuring Machado to lose weight and she revealed that she had battled anorexia and bulimia for five years due to her insecurities.
A study showed that primarily teens and adolescents felt the need to look a specific way and were ashamed of how they looked due to pageant standards.
According to research by a University of Massachusetts professor, Brandyn Churchill “results were not surprising—as many people assume exposure to a thin ideal, affecting body image.”
Social media has a major influence on how we perceive ourselves, especially if we look up to public figures. Appearance-based content is harmful to mental health resulting in poor self-image.
Body shaming and image shaming plays a huge factor in pageantry and the new Miss Universe rules are a significant initiative in changing that reality.