Confessions of the Multi-Age Beauty Pageant Queens

Behind the curtain on the all-age pageant circuit.

By the MORE.COM Editors
Kathy Lauer, Beauties of America, beauty pageant
2010 Beauties of America "America's 50s" winner Kathy Lauer.
Photograph: Eric Ray Davidson

Multi-age beauty pageants are all the rage, and older women are an increasingly hot commodity on the circuit. Read all about this trend in Tamara Jones's report in the June 2011 issue of MORE, on sale May 24. Here, pageant contenders tell Jones why they enter, and how people react to their passion for competing.

DEBRA GILMOUR, America’s 50s, Beauties of America, 2009; Mrs. Oregon International, 2008: “Some of my best friends from pageantry are lawyers, doctors and financial executives. The one thing we have in common is the bias we face from our peers in the executive ranks. When I competed, none of my fellow lobbyists knew about it. When I was an executive director for a statewide non-profit, several board directors treated me very differently after they learned about my winning a pageant. When it comes to executive-level women, competing in pageantry is not something you talk about with your peers.”

JAYNE BLACK, Mrs. Wisconsin United States 2010: “In my forties, I’m way past that point in my life of having to figure out if I’m pretty or worthy because I know I am--we all are! A crown is a powerful tool that I have used to open many doors. My platform is financial fitness and retirement readiness. Sixty-seven percent of American households won’t have enough money to last their retirement. One in five women in retirement live in poverty. I want women to know what I know, to be proactive.”

SUZY BOOTZ, Mrs. International 2006, pageant coach: “It’s a job. You work hard throughout the year. I still go home and vacuum and clean up after my four dogs. At the end of the day, it’s just a crown and a banner. … It really is very, very mental. When I’m coaching, I tell women to find out their biggest insecurity. You can’t walk in and start comparing yourself, or you’re defeated from the beginning. It’s a job you’re applying for: the queen.”

VIENNA DE LA GARZA, Elite Beauty of Texas (Glorious Ms. Division) Spring Queen 2010, Texas 50s delegate, Beauties of America 2010: “At Mrs. International, your husband has to wear a tux and escort you around the stage for evening gowns. My husband said, ‘I’ll take you to ballets, I’ll take you to the opera, if I never have to do that again.’ I said fine. We went to the opera, and he said, ‘Pageants are back on.’ ”

Read all about this trend in Tamara Jones's article Beauty Pageant Queen at Any Age.

First Published May 13, 2011

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