Beauty is not limited to the young. Women the ages of 60 to 90, the “Age of Elegance,” are being celebrated for their beauty as well. In this case, age is truly nothing but a number.
About 40 contestants from across the country will compete in the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., over five days in October. They will represent their home states and participate in evening gown presentations, talent performances and a category in which competitors share their philosophy on life.
“By this age, you’ve had surgeries, car accidents, deaths, divorces … you name it, we’ve been through it. It’s how you react to it and how you grow from it that gives you wisdom. This pageant gives us the opportunity to pass that wisdom down to younger generations,” said Marie.
The participants are doctors, business owners, retired military, dancers, singers and poets. They are mothers and grandmothers — having survived illnesses, lost spouses and children.
The first Ms. Senior America pageant was held in 1972. The idea came from founder Al Mott. At the time, he was running a senior center called Asbury Park in New Jersey. He decided to hold the pageant for the members of the center. The pageant was called Ms. Senior Citizen then. The mission: to present "a positive image of aging."
"My favorite thing about this pageant is the camaraderie of the ladies and even though we're at this stage in our lives, we still have so much to offer and so much to share," said Martin.
The schedule is packed with rehearsals, costume changes, a dinner dance, alumni events and a talent showcase of past winners. Through it all the contestants manage to maintain a smile and demonstrate grace under pressure — all while wearing high heels.
The panel of judges begins evaluating the participants with the first interview. The Inner Beauty category is next, where the women share their “Philosophy of Life” in front of an audience, followed by the evening gown and talent portions of the competition.
"It's never too late to dream a new dream, and it's never too late to live out an old one," said Brenan.
The contestants receive a score from 1 to 10 in each category. When the scores are tallied, the women with the top 10 scores are announced as finalists and are judged a second time.
This year the pageant runs Oct. 15-20 and will be held at the Resorts Casino Hotel.
There is still time to enter. If you have not won a state championship you can still compete “at large” if your state is not represented.
The pageant invites participants to “Share your experience, knowledge and enthusiasm for life. Be part of a national movement to dispel the myths of aging.”