55-year-old mom and 24-year-old daughter who are mistaken for sisters are taking beauty pageants by storm
When Amy Meisak began competing in pageants at the age of 19, she was always grateful to have her mom, Laurie, cheering her on from the crowd. Little did she know, however, that - just a few years later - her mother would end up on the same stage as her.
The 55-year-old mom-of-four (and grandmother-of-two!) took to the catwalk last week in order to compete in the Miss Galaxy UK final and even managed to secure herself a spot as the first runner-up.
Despite her being a complete newcomer to the field, Laurie says she enjoyed the experience immensely.
"It was my first pageant. I’m a mum of four and I’ve never done anything like this before," she said.
"As a mum, I’ve always been a cheerleader for my children and supported them and now they’re grown up. I never thought I would be on the receiving end and my family would be cheering for me. I feel wonderful. I’ve never felt this good in my life and I’ve loved every second."
But Laurie says she couldn't have done it without the encouragement of her daughter.
"[Amy is] my inspiration. She said to me ‘I think you should do something’ and I said ‘don’t be ridiculous, not at my age'," Laurie explained.
"And she said ‘mum in 15 years you’ll be 70 and won’t be able to do anything like that'. She said ‘you’ll have a blast and it will boost your confidence and make you feel good’.
"I thought she was right and that I should do it. Amy gave me lessons. We’ve been practicing the walk in high heels in the kitchen for weeks and she’s been a real hard taskmaster. It’s caused much hilarity in our house. My son Kyle was actually better at the walk than me which was hilarious.
"It’s been a family group effort really. The support I’ve had from them has been second to none. I’m quite overwhelmed by it."
Really, it should have been obvious that she'd do well, as she bears a striking Amy, who is the youngest of her four children.
While she was competing, Laurie says she learned a lot more about the pageant world than she thought she would. In fact, she claims that there's so much more to the community than meets the eye.
"There’s a stigma. People think you have to stand there and look pretty but there’s so much work that goes on in the background," she said.
"You are judged but you get points for the amount of appearances you’ve made, how much money you’ve raised, for how you pose on stage, for your personality, for the interview you give and for how you dance.
"It’s not just about beauty or how big your boobs look. It’s about what you’ve done and how well you’ve done it.
"Amy’s met brain surgeons, scientists, racing car drivers. Some of these girls are really intelligent and it’s a shame there’s this perception about it. People tend to judge when they don't have the facts."
Even with the hard work, though, Laurie says the experience was totally exhilarating.
"Afterwards I really felt the euphoria of having just done something that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in the spotlight.
"I felt so proud of myself. It’s been a blast. I feel 21 again and I’ve made so many new friends. It’s given me a new lease of life.
"I thought I would just end up doing the one but I’ve got the bug now and I would encourage women of any age to have a bash. There were women of all ages in the ‘Mrs’ category – I think I may have been the eldest."
And it also gave her a much-needed boost in confidence.
"It’s such a supportive community," she said. "Some people think these girls have long nails and sharp elbows but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone supports and encourages each other."
"No woman should feel as if she’s past her sell-by date or has a shelf life," Laurie said. "I think if I can do it anyone can."
And her daughter is just as thrilled about the success.
"She’s usually the proud mum at the back of the assembly hall but this time it was the other way round," Amy said. "She’s been the mum and always put us before her - now it’s time for her to enjoy herself."
It just goes to show that there's no age limit to trying something new or gaining a new skill; all you need is the confidence to put yourself out there.