The Miss Universe Organisation (MUO) has officially abolished age limits for all its global pageants, effective from the 2024 season onwards.
This decision was announced on Tuesday, September 12, at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) SS24, where the reigning Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel took to the runway as a surprise model for Tanner Fletcher’s “Beauty Pageant” collection.
The decision to eliminate age restrictions is driven by Gabriel’s advocacy for greater inclusivity. During the January show, Gabriel was asked about the possibility of extending age limits, to which she responded: “If not now, when?” Her stance, along with the organisation’s commitment to modernising its criteria, culminated in this landmark change.
Amy Emmerich, CEO of MUO, said: “R’Bonney was our muse in making this decision, but it’s been a long time coming. As women, we all understand that youth is not and has never been a requirement for beauty, and there’s no reason why it should be a requirement for Miss Universe.”
Starting with the 2024 pageant season, every adult woman worldwide will have the opportunity to compete for the coveted title of Miss Universe, provided they are at least 18 years old.
Paula Shugart, MUO president, added: “For years, we’ve had requests from fans and partners all over the world, reminding us that there is not a place for this restriction in an inclusive organisation like ours. We agree, and look forward to this next chapter of the Miss Universe legacy.”
Gabriel herself, as the oldest titleholder to date (29), nearly aged out of the competition and championed the idea of shifting perspectives on beauty and age. She expressed satisfaction with the permanent change, saying, “I’m so glad to see that this will be a permanent change for my Miss Universe sisters.”
Furthermore, for the ongoing 2023 season, the Miss Universe programme has already removed restrictions on married women, divorced women, pregnant women, and mothers participating in the competition. This year’s grand finale is scheduled to take place in El Salvador on November 18, with two mothers competing for the prestigious title.