Miss Universe will allow married women and mothers to compete for the first time in its history. A former winner said it's 'about time.'

The 2020 Miss Universe winner, Andrea Meza, will be passing on the crown on Sunday.
The 2020 Miss Universe winner, Andrea Meza.BENJAMIN ASKINAS/Miss Universe
  • Miss Universe will allow married women and mothers to compete for the first time in its history.

  • The new rule will take effect for the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in 2023.

  • Andrea Meza, who won Miss Universe 2020, told Insider it was "about time" the rule changed.

For the first time in its history, Miss Universe will allow married women and mothers to compete in the international pageant.

The new rules will take effect for the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in 2023, according to an internal memo obtained by The National. Preliminary pageants have already begun for this year's Miss Universe, which will be held in December.

A source close to the Miss Universe organization confirmed the rule change with Insider and said the memo went out to national directors on Friday.

Miss India at Miss Universe 2021
Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe 2021.MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images

"We all believe that women should have agency over their lives and that a human's personal decisions should not be a barrier to their success," the memo read, according to The National.

Before the rule change, only women between the ages of 18 and 28 who had never been married and had no children were allowed to compete for Miss Universe. The age bracket will remain the same, the source confirmed to Insider.

Andrea Meza, who was crowned Miss Universe 2020, said the new rule was a long time coming.

"I honestly love that this is happening," she told Insider in an exclusive interview. "Just like society changes and women are now occupying leadership positions where in the past only men could, it was about time pageants changed and opened up to women with families."

"There are a lot of women that got married young or had kids in their early 20s and they always wanted to participate in Miss Universe but couldn't because of the rules," she added. "Now those women can start or boost their careers in entertainment because of these changes."

Miss Mexico Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe 2020.
Miss Mexico Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe 2020.TRACY NGYUEN/Miss Universe

And Meza, who represented Mexico in the pageant, had a message for those who had an issue with the new rule.

"A few people are against these changes because they always wanted to see a single beautiful woman who is available for a relationship," she said. "They always wanted to see a woman that from the outside looks so perfect that she's almost unreachable. The former is sexist and the latter is unrealistic."

Meza noted that life as Miss Universe is a serious job that can be demanding and exhausting, but that doesn't mean mothers and wives should be disqualified.

"Just like in any other industry, women are capable of having demanding leadership positions without or with a family, it is no different in this case," she said.

Meza is no stranger to the former rule. Just hours after she won the crown, pageant fans tried to claim she was married.

They had unearthed an old Instagram picture that showed Meza wearing a wedding gown with a flowing veil. She was on top of a cliff with a man in a tuxedo alongside a caption that read, "3-09-19."

A spokesperson for Miss Universe told Insider at the time that the organization had been flooded with messages about the photo. But Meza said the picture was just from a photo shoot she had done while working as the official tourism brand ambassador for Chihuahua, where she lived in Mexico.

"It's funny because the guy that is with me, he's the youngest brother of one of my best friends," Meza told Insider. "He's 21. He's just a kid. And it's funny because everyone is taking it very seriously."

"Back then, I was not in any pageant. I just posted the picture making fun of the situation," she added. "We thought it was funny to prank our friends by only writing the date on the caption."

Miss India, Miss South Africa, Miss Paraguay
Miss Universe 2021 finalists Lalela Mswane, Harnaaz Sandhu, and Nadia Ferreira.MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images

Meza believes the new inclusive rule will be impactful both for the pageant contestants and the women watching at home.

"I think it's inspiring seeing someone that is just like you participating and winning and seeing their lives change," she said. "It's incredible."

Read the original article on Insider