A glamorous grandmother has kicked off her beauty pageant success in her sixties – despite being more than double the age of other contestants.
Karen Russell, from
The retired quality co-ordinator, now 61, hopes to set a good example for her granddaughter Shaylynn, 16, by proving ‘anything is possible’.
Karen Russell (left and right), from Kentucky, has so far taken home five first place crowns and hopes to set a good example for her granddaughter
Karen said: ‘There’s nothing better than on a gown and makeup then walking down the runway.
‘I wear false eyelashes and do my own makeup ahead of a pageant. Sometimes, I even wear seven-inch heels on stage which is not bad for a 61-year-old.
‘I never feel conscious about my age because the dress makes me feel wonderful.
‘I have competed against drop dead gorgeous women in their forties and still won. I just step on stage and be myself.
Karen (right) has already enjoyed great success in the pageant world despite being more than double the age of other contestants
The grandmother (pictured) said she realised pageants are the perfect place to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation
‘A judge once said I talk too much and my hair is too big – but I still won. I never expect to hear my name at the end!
‘It is great because a lot of the younger women look up to me as I am proving age is just a number.’
Earlier last year, Karen was approached by a man in a hardware shop, who asked her to participate in a Kentucky war veteran pageant.
After a few days thinking about, Karen agreed as the cause ‘melted her heart’.
Karen said she has never got stage fright but finding an ‘age appropriate’ dress is the hardest part.
Karen (left and right) said she has never got stage fright but finding an ‘age appropriate’ dress is the hardest part
Earlier last year, Karen (left, on stage) was approached by a man in a hardware shop, who asked her to participate in a Kentucky war veteran pageant
She said: ‘I lost all my evening gowns in a house fire in 2013. Everything was burnt to a crisp so I had to buy brand new ones – which is part of the fun yet the most difficult part.
‘One time, I tried on multiple dresses but couldn’t even get the zip up. It turns out I was trying on prom dresses!
‘I eventually found a stunning red mermaid dress and it made me feel like a princess.
‘It was the first time I had got dressed up since losing my only son Jonathan, aged 32, in November 2011.’
After donating Jonathan’s organs to save other people’s lives, Karen made it her mission to spread love and positivity.
She realised pageants are the perfect place to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.
She said: ‘I never in a million years thought I would ever enter a pageant but now I feel like I have found my calling.
‘I’ve never felt sorry for my circumstances – I’ve always found something beautiful from it.
‘Being a beauty queen isn’t all about looks, it is about being charitable and helping the community – something I am passionate about.
‘I am also helping uplift the other women who are much younger than me.
‘I am young at heart and all the other contestants are impressed with my fashion sense.
‘My granddaughter Shaylynn loves to go shopping with me as I always pick out cute outfits for her.’