Miss Universe 2023 Winner R'Bonney Gabriel Makes Passionate Case To Raise Pageant Age Limit

A new Miss Universe has been crowned. Among 84 contestants, USA's R'Bonney Gabriel stood out winning the highly coveted title (per Deadline). According to the New York Post, Gabriel won Miss USA in October 2022, making history as the first Asian-American and the first Filipina-American to gain the crown. As an homage to her heritage, the fashion designer took matters into her own hands to fashion an outfit for her Miss USA interview. 

"My mom is from Beaumont, TX and my father is from the Philippines. They got married in Manila Philippines," Gabriel wrote in an Instagram caption. "I hand painted the same flower design from my mother's wedding dress onto my sleeves and tied in a traditional Maria Clara Filipina collar shape," she continued, also noting her "immense gratitude for the opportunities my parents provided me and wanted to express my love [for] them through this."

The winner of Miss Universe 2023 made history again on January 14 as the oldest contestant to ever participate in the competition at 28 (via The Washington Post). And that is something she is making headlines for, as she hopes to work to get that changed. 

R'Bonney Gabriel makes plea to allow older women to compete

R'Bonney Gabriel, the newly crowned Miss Universe, made a case to raise the age limit for the pageant. As the official website notes, "delegates must be at least 18 years of age and under 28 years of age on the date the National competition commenced." Though as some adults may notice in Miss Congeniality, the age limit seems like it might've been higher in the fictional film. Gabriel is 28, which is the oldest a contestant can be to compete (via The Washington Post). But, she plans to change that. 

During the January 14 competition, per CNN, Gabriel was asked "Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What's another change you'd like to see and why?" She responded, "I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old. And that is the oldest age to compete. And I think it's a beautiful thing," continuing, "My favorite quote is 'if not now, then when?' Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It's not tomorrow, it's not yesterday — but it's now. The time is now."

Now that she's won Miss Universe, Gabriel explained that she hopes to become a "transformational leader," CNN reported. "We all have something special and when we plant those seeds for other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change."