60-Year-Old's Historic Run Ends in Miss Argentina Pageant Amid Miss Universe Age Policy Changes

Alejandra Marisa Rodríguez won the title of "best face," one of several pageant categories including best evening gown, best swimsuit, and most elegant.

A 60-year-old woman's dream to become the oldest Miss Universe contestant ended in a swirl of sequins and selfies at Argentina's annual beauty pageant. Alejandra Marisa Rodríguez, a hospital legal adviser, was celebrated for challenging ageism in a youth-focused world but fell short of the Miss Argentina crown. Nonetheless, she won the title of "best face," one of several pageant categories including best evening gown, best swimsuit, and most elegant.

Alejandra Marisa Rodríguez

Rodríguez thanked supporters of her success in the Miss Buenos Aires competition last month, which had propelled her to local fame and global media attention. The Miss Universe organization had recently eliminated its long-standing age limit, allowing her historic entry.

Rodríguez, a lawyer from La Plata, south of Buenos Aires, shared beauty tips and championed the belief that age is just a number. "A new door has opened for many people who perhaps did not have it easy," Rodríguez said backstage, wearing a red cocktail dress with leg-revealing slits. "It was an adventure, and I had no expectations other than taking on a new challenge."

For the swimsuit portion of the contest, Rodríguez wore a modest one-piece suit with a shawl and entertained the crowd with a shimmy. However, judges favored Magali Benejam, a 29-year-old actress and model from Cordoba, who won "best swimsuit" in a skimpy blue bikini and high stilettos. Benejam was ultimately crowned Miss Argentina, outshining the 27 other contestants.

"I'm so excited and grateful to be here because the competition was not easy," Benejam told the Associated Press. She will represent Argentina in the global competition in Mexico City this November.

This year's Miss Universe contest, for the first time in its 73-year history, allowed participants over age 18, discarding the previous age limit of 28. This change follows a series of reforms in response to feminist criticism, notably since the 1968 Miss America protests.

The Miss Universe pageant, which once focused on unmarried women in their late teens and twenties, now promotes ideals of empathy, confidence, and authenticity. It has removed many controversial eligibility requirements, opening the contest to married, pregnant, lesbian, and transgender women, and has eliminated mentions of "beauty" from its website.

While Rodríguez's participation was praised, some questioned the standards it set for older women. Her youthful appearance and award-winning face prompted discussions about unrealistic beauty expectations for women of all ages.

"It's contributing to a sense that all 60-year-old women should look youthful," said Lala Pasquinelli, an Argentine feminist activist. "If they don't, it's seen as a lack of effort."