Beauty before age

The beauty contest in Talpot's Ahim Yisrael Mall is geared specifically for women aged 30 and up.

beauty contest 88 (photo credit: )
beauty contest 88
(photo credit: )
On February 14, a beauty contest will be held in the Ahim Yisrael Mall in Talpiot. But rather than worshiping at the pedestal of youth as most beauty pageants do, this one is geared specifically for women aged 30 and up. The contest, titled "Hayafa B'nashim" (The Prettiest of Women), is being sponsored by the local newspaper Kol Ha'ir and the mall itself. Contestants will model two fashion collections that are sold in the mall, and have a chance to win prizes like an overseas vacation and jewelry. As Orit Arfa, a Jerusalem Post contributor and contest contender explains, it's a win-win situation. "I'm excited to have them dress me up, to get fashion tips and lessons, and to experience what it's like to be in a beauty contest," Arfa told In Jerusalem. The 14 contestants were chosen at an audition in which about 40 women participated, and represent a broad range of ages, professions and lifestyles. Some have children, and the oldest contestant, who is in her 50s, is a grandmother. Alon Goldberg, CEO of Ahim Yisrael Mall, explains that while beauty was vital in determining the final candidates, other factors played a significant role as well. "We deliberately chose a spectrum of women… Not just for how they look, but also for their careers and what they do in their lives… The whole package is important." The contestants are undergoing training before the contest under the supervision of catalogue stylist Guy Blicksman, who is teaching them how to walk down the catwalk in high-heeled shoes. Makeovers, in both fashion and cosmetics, are another part of Blicksman's plan to "make each woman look like a million dollars." According to Arfa, Blicksman told each woman to walk across the room and then he delivered a critique. Some women started out more adept at the catwalk strut than others, Arfa relates. "I had much to work on," she says. "The first walk across the room, he said that I bounce too much." Arfa also learned that the catwalk is not just about walking; "passion in the eyes" is important too. "I really felt like I was in a reality TV show," says Arfa. "This is how they may feel on America's Next Top Model." Blicksman will also coach the women on how to respond to the personal questions they will be asked during the contest. "My job is to bring out their self-confidence because these aren't 18-year-olds," says Blicksman. "I don't look at the exterior of a person; I look at their lives. A lot of [the contestants] have gone through a lot in life, with careers and kids, for good and bad." Arfa recounts how she came to enter the contest: "I saw the poster at the mall and noticed the audition was being held on my 31st birthday. It looked like a lot of fun, so I thought, 'Why not see if I've still got what it takes?'" Rinat Awadalla was also inspired to enter the contest when she saw the advertisement for the first audition. "Ever since I was child I thought about being in a beauty contest, but there was no opportunity until now," says the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court translator. The contest is important, Awadalla says, because it celebrates mature women and gives them a chance to do something to benefit themselves amid the demands of children, career, marriage and sometimes divorce. "Without women, no one could do anything," says Awadalla, who is also head of the Ein Nakuba Community Center, an ambulance driver and an Israel Police volunteer. "Women are essential… It's a pleasure to see women realizing their dreams." Arfa agrees. "I think the 30s are the best years for women," she says. "They've gotten through the existential angst of their 20s, they know themselves a bit more and are usually more established in their careers. It's the best time for women to participate in a contest because they feel comfortable with themselves."