She's Got the Look contender Dolores De Vega, 72, proved that a pretty older woman can hold her own in a modeling contest with women half her age.
She survived with grace and good will such tests ass posing in underwear on a rainy, chilly day in New York's Central Park.
In an exit interview, this example of successful aging said she had been encouraged by people 50, 60, 70 and older.
"We feel like we are the invisible segment of the population," DeVega said of her supporters.
She left the reality TV show with grace and irrepressible spirit.
Judges expressed disappointment that they could not offer the mature model a place among the final four contestants.
Their respect and affection for her bubbled over as the judges universally demanded hugs.
I rooted for Dolores De Vega to land the top prize of $100,000, a modeling contract with the Wilhelmina Agency, and a photo spread in Self magazine.
This left me in the throes of a philosophical contradiction. On the one hand, as a feminist I deplore the hyper-sexualization of females to sell products.
On the other hand, ageism is even worse than sexism that permeates our society. Older women, as De Vega, said, are invisible.
Thank goodness that Carl Jung suggested that maturity and growth to wholeness means being able to hold contradictory positions, or I wouldn't know what to make of this inner war.
The gimmick of the modeling competition is that the contestants are 30-somethings – about 20 years older than contestants on similar modeling shows.
De Vega trampolined for the first time as a septuagenarian.
On week four, stylist Robert Verdi -- wearing a bright purple paisley sports jacket -- gave the pretty older woman wardrobe advice.
His suggestions included throwing De Vega's newly purchased silver jacket into the trash. Verdi's own hideous jacket should have been the first thing in the garbage.
The take-away from that episode of She's Got the Look is to take fashion advice only from someone whose taste you respect.
De Vega donned a cowboy hat and other Western attire to show her sexy side in the runway competition. The judges claimed she was "over-the-top" with this voguing.
If De Vega can carry off the smokin' cowgirl look -- and she did -- she's earned the right at to project sexy any old way she wants.
The last episode in which she appeared comprised two modeling tests. One involved two children, a dog, and a food fight. The other was for a lingerie campaign. DeVega made it look like she was having a ball with the male model young enough to be her grandson.
Show producers showed good taste and respect for DeVega by outfitting her in a figure-concealing red slip, compared with skimpy bras and teddies for younger contestants.
Even this could not completely hide the inevitable bulges of aging that can happen even to pretty older women. DeVega also wore a less-flattering pencil knit dress for the runway appearances before the judges.
She's Got the Look judges grumbled that DeVega only had two facial expressions – laughing and showing no emotion. They said this was why they decided to eliminate her from the contest.
They noted that all contestants were very good, and decisions came down to evaluating performance nuances.
DeVega accomplished much in heightening awareness for successful aging during her six weeks on She's Got the Look. Go for your dream if it was not fulfilled in your earlier years, she concluded.
She modeled for publications such as Jet in her younger days. After a decades away from modeling, De Vega broke out of racial and aging constraints as a mature model.
The mature model promised that we have not seen the last her; she will continue making her own dream come true of being a top model.
Aging as a stage of life is treated in reviews of books, often written from a Jungian perspective.
The Living Spirit of the Crone is depicted in interviews with older women by Sally Palmer Thomason.