Beginning in 2024, "every adult woman in the world will be eligible to compete," according to Miss Universe officials
The Miss Universe organization has announced that adult women of all ages will soon be allowed to compete in their pageants.
Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel announced the groundbreaking change during Tanner Fletcher’s show at New York Fashion Week on Tuesday, which was fittingly titled “Beauty Pageant,"
according to Women's Wear Daily.
The change will officially take place in 2024, according to a brief statement shared on Miss Universe’s Instagram Story.
“Starting then, every adult woman in the world will be eligible to compete to be Miss Universe,” they wrote.
Contestants previously aged out of the organization’s pageants after age 28. Gabriel was the oldest woman to be crowned Miss Universe, and is now 29 years old.
Gabriel was also the first Filipino-American woman to win Miss USA — and the first Miss USA representative to be crowned Miss Universe in a decade.
“What I love about Miss Universe is that they are always out first in line, looking for ways they can be more inclusive and better live up to the platform that they’ve designed for us,” Gabriel told WWD.
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“A woman’s ability to compete at Miss Universe, or anything in life, shouldn’t be defined by her age. Age should just be a number," she added.
Gabriel previously said she would like to see the age of eligibility increase when asked about what change she would like to see made to the competition’s rules during the 2023 pageant’s question-and-answer segment.
“My favorite quote is ‘If not now, then when?’ Because I believe age should not define us,” Gabriel said at the time. “It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now — the time is now that you can go after what you want.”
In an interview with PEOPLE in January, Gabriel said she wanted to be a "voice" for change in both the fashion and pageant industries as Miss Universe.
"Especially now that I'm Miss Universe, I have a very big platform, and that is one of my key goals as Miss Universe," she explained.
The decision to expand the age limit for Miss Universe contestants is just the latest change made to the rulebooks. Beginning in 2022, the organization began allowing mothers and married women to compete.
A decade prior, in 2012, Miss Universe ended its ban on transgender contestants, according to CNN and Reuters. Since then, multiple openly transgender women have gone on to compete and win titles at pageants hosted by the organization.
Miss Universe is now owned by Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip, a Thai businesswoman and transgender rights advocate. Jakrajutatip, who is transgender, became the first woman to own the organization in 2022.
"We seek not only to continue its legacy of providing a platform to passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and traditions, but also to evolve the brand for the next generation," Jakrajutatip said in a statement at the time, according to Variety.
The 72nd Miss Universe competition will be held on Nov. 18 in El Salvador, according to the organization’s website.
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