Beauty Pageant Queen at Any Age

Never mind the Toddlers & Tiaras kids and their rabid stage moms. The real action is on the multiage beauty pageant circuit, where ferociously focused 30-, 40- and 50-somethings compete.

By Tamara Jones
Beauties of America, pageant, Karli Barnett, Terri Lyda, Jessica Cassidy
Outgoing Beauties of America winners huddle with 2010 contenders. From left: Karli Barnett, Terri Lyda, Jessica Cassidy
Photograph: Eric Ray Davidson

Wadsworth figures she’ll start budgeting on Monday for a new dress for the following year, when she’ll make her fifth try. Radiah Hyatte returns home to Virginia and gets word that she’s being laid off by her tech firm. She decides to go full time as a Mary Kay consultant and move to North -Carolina for the lower cost of living—but reinventing her life won’t stop her from pouring everything into winning Miss Galaxy. “I’m going back this summer with a vengeance,” she vows. Debra Gilmour, her Beauties of America reign now over, feels fulfilled and wants to switch to consulting in the pageant world.

“I’m not competing anymore,” she swears. “Stick a rhinestone fork in me. I’m done.”

TAMARA JONES is a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer based in the Washington, D.C., area.

Originally published in the June 2011 issue of MORE.

For more pageantry, see Confessions of the Multi-Age Beauty Pageant Queens.

Check out Debra Gilmour's essay, Reinventing Mrs Oregon.

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First Published May 10, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!



Congratulations to MORE Magazine for publishing a great article on Beauties of America and recognizing that women of age are beautiful too. Love the banners as well!!

Marlene Martin05.24.2011

Nicely written with lots of detail. So glad that MORE highlighted such a growing trend in pageantry--women over 35 competing and loving it! It reminded me of why I started Woman of Achievement. I loved the part about how calm the 35 and over delegates are under pressure (compared to the younger delegates) and the variety of reasons they listed for still competing!

Michelle Field05.24.2011

It is so refreshing to see a positive article about women competing in pageants. There is so much stigma thanks to shows like Toddlers and Tiaras! I hope that women who compete in pageants, especially those over 35, will hold heads a little higher.

Debra Gilmour05.23.2011

Thank you for the WONDERFUL article! It is so nice to see such a great group of women having fun! Kudos to MORE for covering a positive pageant story!

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