Babushkas in the United States who usually take part in an annual autumn beauty pageant have said they are saddened not to be able to take part this year.
The ‘Your Highness Grandmother Pageant’ has been staged annually in Brooklyn for the past two decades, but social distancing requirements necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic have led the elderly competitors to skip 2020.
“We wait every year for this,” said 83-year-old Moldova-born Jewish grandmother Anna Malkina Shumaeva, speaking to Times of Israel. “It makes our life more nice.”
The friendly competition, for which the babushkas dress up and strut their stuff, helps sustain community relations among immigrants from the former Soviet Union and takes place in Brighton Beach.
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Organisers said that when the pageant began in 2001, roughly 90 percent of the participants were Jewish, but these days it is “half Jewish, half non-Jewish Russian-speakers”. Participants compete in two categories – over and under 75.
Founder Raisa Chernina said their youngest participant was a belly dancer, and that some women do not speak English. “It’s funny,” she said. “The women laugh at themselves.”
To compensate for having to cancel the pageant this year, organisers held a 4 July contest for the grandmothers, with more than 100 entries to a competition. Participants were asked to send in creative projects expressing their love for the US.