Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ms. Senior America: Where true beauty is matter of insight, eyesight

Louise Ferla of Wimauma, vice president of the Ms. Senior America pageant, in 1993 after being crowned Ms. New Jersey Senior.

Courtesy of Louise Ferla

Louise Ferla of Wimauma, vice president of the Ms. Senior America pageant, in 1993 after being crowned Ms. New Jersey Senior.

By Fred W. Wright Jr.

Times Correspondent

Note to American women: If you ever yearned to be in a beauty pageant, it's never too late.

In fact, in order to be eligible for the annual Ms. Senior America pageant — this year's to be held Oct. 20-25 in the mecca of beauty pageants, Atlantic City — you need to be at least 60 years old.

There, winners of state Ms. Senior America competitions, including Florida's Betsy Ross of Vero Beach, will compete in four categories that are designed to display the contestant's inner beauty as well as outer poise. That's the philosophy of Senior America, a nonprofit organization based in New Jersey, which has been sponsoring these pageants since 1972.

"We're not a traditional beauty pageant," explained Louise Ferla, 80. She's vice president for Ms. Senior America and was Ms. New Jersey Senior America 1993. "We look for the inner beauty," she explained. "What's inside of us. What we do and what we continue to do. If a contestant has a pretty face, so be it. You're not judged on your face."

A panel of judges looks at the contestant's community activities as much as at other assets, Ferla explained.

A resident of Valencia Lakes, a retirement community in Wimauma, Ferla said she has been a volunteer for more than 40 years, with her community efforts both in New Jersey and Florida ranging from singing Christmas carols with veterans to sharing ice cream and cake with nursing home residents.

Contestants are judged in four categories — an interview, inner beauty, evening gown and talent. While the pageant judges recognize physical fitness, the organization's philosophy is that "true beauty is a matter of insight as well as eyesight."

Since some contestants may be in their 80s or even 90s, Ferla stressed that "we take women from the rocking chair to the runway." Noting the return of the Miss America Pageant to Atlantic City, Ferla added, "They are the young; we're the young at heart."

The winner receives modest prizes: a crown, a banner and a bouquet of flowers. There are no cash prizes.

"None of these prizes are serious dollars," explained Betsy Appello, organization president. "(Contestants) aren't expecting lots of money.

"Most of our contestants are community gals," she added. "They're not necessarily looking for scholarships or modeling contracts."

Each Ms. Senior America reigns for a year and travels to state pageants when possible.

Not every state will be represented in this year's pageant, according to Appello. "It's too soon to tell."

The number of contestants in October? "Usually, it's in the 30s," she said.

Fred. W. Wright Jr. Is a resident of Seminole. He can be reached at travelword@aol.com

Tips from a beauty queen

Ms. Senior America contestants get advice on poise, stage presence and presentation, explained Louise Ferla, former contestant, pageant co-emcee and resident of Valencia Lakes in Wimauma. We asked her for some quick tips based on what she has learned in her years with the pageant:

What advice would you give to an older woman who wants to feel more beautiful?

I believe there are two kinds of beauty — inner and outer. For the inner, have a positive attitude on aging; have compassion for others; project who you really are. For outer beauty, proper diet; stay active; exercise daily; dress appropriately for your age. A little makeup can go a long, long way.

What are Ms. Senior America pageant judges looking for?

They are looking for a woman who can promote the positive aspects of aging, the Ms. Senior America philosophy, and mission statement,

and be a role model for the younger generation.

How has being named a "beauty queen" and pageant winner changed you?

It has given me an opportunity and platform to never stop telling the youth of America that we do care about them and their future and to share my life experience with others to make their journey easier and more successful.

If you were going on a trip and could carry only five beauty/cosmetic items, what would they be?

I would pack a moisturizer, a healthy luminous liquid makeup, cream blush, mascara and two lipsticks (depending on the colors in my wardrobe).

mission statement

The Ms. Senior America Pageant is the world's first and foremost pageant to emphasize and give honor to women who have reached the "Age of Elegance." It is a search for the gracious lady who best exemplifies the dignity, maturity and inner beauty of all senior Americans. The Ms. Senior America philosophy is based upon the belief that seniors are the foundation of America, and our most valuable treasure. It is upon their knowledge, experience and resources that the younger generation has the opportunity to build a better society.

Source: senioramerica.org

Ms. Senior America: Where true beauty is matter of insight, eyesight 08/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 5:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Muslims thankful for support after rant, deadly attack

    Crime

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Muslims in Portland, Ore., thanked the community for its support and said they were raising money for the families of two men who were killed when they came to the defense of two young women — one wearing a hijab — who were targeted by an anti-Muslim rant.

    Jeremy Christian is accused of killing 2 men who stepped in as he berated two women.
  2. Following Trump's trip, Merkel says Europe can't rely on U.S. anymore

    Politics

    LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Donald Trump last week, saying that Europe "really must take our fate into our own hands."

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, shown speaking with President Trump last week, says Europe “must take our fate into our own hands.”
  3. Seven children, 1 to 10, seriously injured when driver loses control on I-4

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Seven young passengers 1 to 10 years old were seriously injured when the driver of a Chevrolet Suburban lost control, causing the vehicle to flip and hit a fence on Interstate 4 just east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4

    Events

    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  5. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [Pinellas County Jail]