A glamorous pensioner has started her beauty pageant career, despite being double the age of the other contestants.

Stunning 61-year-old Karen Russell waltzed down the runway in a glitzy dress for the very first time a year ago.

The grandmother-of-one has strutted her stuff against much younger women and taken home five first place crowns.

She hopes to set a good example for her granddaughter Shaylynn, 16, by proving ‘anything is possible’.

Karen, from Kentucky, US, who is a retired quality co-ordinator, 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.

Karen [left] believes pageants are a great way for her to make new friends

“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.

“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.”

Karen was approached by a man in a hardware shop last year, 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 taking part in a pageant
She took her first catwalk a year ago

Karen says she’s never got stage fright but finding an ‘age appropriate’ dress is the hardest part.

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.

She wants to inspire her granddaughter

“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, 16, loves to go shopping with me as I always pick out cute outfits for her.”





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