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60-year-old Miss Buenos Aires says change is coming as Miss Universe run comes to an end

By Abel Alvarado, CNN

(CNN) — A 60-year-old Argentine beauty queen’s run for Miss Universe may have come to an end, but she says her remarkable journey is the “first step of a change” in society’s perceptions.

Alejandra Rodriguez made headlines across the world in April when she was crowned Miss Buenos Aires, becoming the first sexagenarian to win a contest organized by the Miss Universe franchise.

While she was unable to repeat that triumph on Saturday to become Miss Argentina and earn the right to represent her country in the Miss Universe pageant, she did win the “best face” category and celebrated her breakthrough as marking the beginnings of a shift in how beauty is perceived.

“This is the first step of a change that is coming,” Rodriguez, an attorney and journalist by profession, told CNN en Español after the contest.

“I hope this (my participating) marks a before and after. I think exterior beauty is always the main focus, I don’t think that it’s wrong to select a beautiful woman, but maybe the concept of beauty needs to expand,” she said.

Rodriguez’s participation was only made possible after the Miss Universe organization changed its rules related to age.

Until 2023, contestants had to be between the ages of 18 and 28 as of January 1 of the year in which they competed. As of 2024, there is no upper age limit.

“It was a change that is positive, I think it is little by little, like all changes,” she said, adding she was thankful to have “the opportunity to be the first.”

Ending the age limit was just one of a series of rule changes the pageant introduced in 2023 in an effort to modernize.

For the first time in its more than 70-year history, the franchise also greenlit the participation of women who are married or divorced, and who have given birth or are pregnant.

“There was also a 40-year-old woman who participated, another who is 37. It’s like the limits are already expanding,” Rodriguez said. “There were women who are mothers, things that were unthinkable before in Miss Universe.”

Rodriguez said that even though she fell short of the honor of representing her country, stereotypes related to beauty, age, shape and weight were slowly changing.

The winner on Saturday was Magalí Benejam, who at 29 would have been ruled too old to compete under the previous rules.

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