Miss Universe Canada's oldest-ever contestant wants to inspire women to 'write the script' of their own lives

Lorraine Peters of New Brunswick is the oldest contestant in Miss Universe Canada history.

A photo of a glittery tiara, one the Miss Universe Canada competition likely uses. (Photo via Getty Images)
Miss Universe Canada is now welcoming contestants in higher age groups. (Photo via Getty Images)

For the first time in its history, the Miss Universe Canada competition has opened its doors to women over the age of 28. This year's pageant, set to take place in Windsor, Ont. from July 20 to 28, features 64 contestants, several over this age threshold. Among them stands Lorraine Peters, 58, who is the oldest contestant.

Originally from St. Stephen, N.B., and now residing in Rothesay, N.B., Peters wants to be remind women worldwide that no matter their age, they're still "relevant." Speaking with Yahoo Canada, the public speaker, entrepreneur and former model shared her thoughts on how people often treat aging women.

Lorraine Peters, who's competing in Miss Universe Canada, hold a tiara against a pink backdrop. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)
Lorraine Peters, 58, is competing as Miss Universe Canada's oldest-ever contestant. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)

"Society does not shed a favourable light on aging women," Peters said. "All of the marketing is geared toward fixing what is broken in us or on us. We're made to feel as if we're no longer relevant ... and our value has already had its day."

Peters's mission goes beyond personal ambition. She's keenly aware of the wider implications of societal standards on women. Her goal is to challenge these norms and bring attention to the pervasive issue of ageism. Through her work in the modelling industry and teaching confidence-based courses, Peters has witnessed firsthand the pressures faced by younger women.

"The younger girls are so afraid of failure, and failure in the public eye and on social media, that they're not bringing out their strengths and talents to be seen in public," she explained. "But the same is also true about what I'm observing in women of age."

Peters noted she believes societal pressures lead women to retreat. However, she hopes her participation and potential pageant win will inspire young women to take risks despite the fear of failure.

"Because of this societal pressure to be young and young looking and that nothing can be wrong with your body or your face, they're kind of retreating into the shadows," she shared. "I want people to look at me and say, 'Hey, why not? Why can't a woman who has taken great care of herself and still is relevant and has something valuable to say, why shouldn't she be there?'

"The work has to start on the inside. There is no replacement for this. ... Understanding who you are, what you want, what your dealbreakers are. ... You get to write the script on how people perceive you."

Lorraine Peters wears an
The New Brunswicker aims to inspire other women, especially those who are older and feel less "relevant" in society. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)

Peters has faced her share of ageist remarks, often being complimented with the caveat, "for your age." She said she finds such comments "diminishing."

"I'm very fit, I've been a fitness person since I was in my mid-20s," she shared. "I still stay very fit, I go to the gym, I have competed in bodybuilding, and by any standard, I am fit. But to say that I'm in good shape for my age diminishes that because I've worked at this most of my life."

She also noted the importance of embracing one's sensuality regardless of age. "I've had people tell me, 'It doesn't matter how old you get, Lorraine. You're always going to be sexy.' And I take that as a compliment because my baseline personality is very sexually charged ... that is different than sex. It doesn't mean sex. It is your sexuality or your erotic kind of lens you view things through. There is no age to that."

A portrait of Lorraine Peters. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)
Peters wants to break barriers and preconceived notions when it comes to age. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)

Peters is a testament to the idea that beauty, glamour and femininity can coexist with intellect and professional success. She owns a small business, has climbed the corporate ladder and is passionate about fashion.

"I'm a glam girl. I like to do my hair and do my makeup," she said. "All through the pandemic, I got up every day, ... I did my hair, I put my makeup on and I dressed in something that was either really nice, or some days it was funky, or other days it was casual but still elevated so that I felt like myself.

"There's this ridiculous narrative that beauty and glamour and femininity cannot coexist with intellect. ... They very much can coexist. I want to extinguish this whole idea that you can't be a pageant queen and also be the VP of a company — 'cause I'm also that."

Lorraine Peters' official Miss Universe Canada portrait. (Photo via Miss Universe Canada)
On top of a beauty pageant contestant, Peters is an entrepreneur, public speaker and former model. (Photo via Miss Universe Canada)

Competing in Miss Universe Canada requires extensive preparation. Peters began by hiring two international pageant coaches to help her perfect her interview skills, which account for a significant portion of the scoring — 30 to 40 per cent, according to Peters.

"My strategy is to nail the interview and then hold my own on the stage with the younger women," she shared, before revealing she dedicates hours each day to practicing walking in high heels and perfecting her runway patterns.

"Getting my feet and ankles used to the 5 and 6-inch heels again. ... I spend a couple of hours a day — I put my heels on, I walk around my house, I practice my walking patterns for swimwear, I practice my walking patterns for evening gowns and just generally get my feet and my ankles and my toes ready for the gruelling week we will be in our shoes 12 hours a day or more."

Peters clarified the contestants are expected to style themselves and supply their own wardrobes: "It's all about pulling that cohesive message and picture all the way through the pageant week. ... You want your image and persona to pull through all the way."

Lorraine Peters holds a tiara while wearing a
Peters is ready to be a part of the progressive changes being made in beauty pageants. (Photo via Lorraine Peters)

Looking beyond the competition, Peters noted she hopes the Miss Universe Canada platform will help her reach and inspire other women.

"I would use the Miss Universe Canada platform and amplify my message, my broader message of finding the courage to do the things you're scared to do and building the skills and confidence to pursue your goals and dreams," she said.

"I really do believe at this point in time, I am the ideal candidate to be Miss Universe Canada so that I can be a part of these progressive changes and using my wisdom and my experience to help Miss Universe Canada be a world leader in pageantry. ... If people think that I'm not scared to death, they would be wrong. But I have to do it."

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