By Janee Law
As the sash was wrapped around her shoulder and hip and she was handed a bouquet of red roses, Lidia Szczepanowski’s grin quickly widened as she knelt down to be crowned Ms. World Elite 2017.
The Ms. World Pageant, held May 26-28 at in Everett, Washington, featured 21 contestants, including Szczepanowski, of Dix Hills, the daughter of Polish immigrants who was crowned Ms. Poland in March. Both Ms. World title and Ms. World Elite were crowned. Szczepanowski said the elite designation is awarded to the highest scoring contestant who is over 40 years old.
“It’s empowering for me because age is only a number,” Szczepanowski, 52, said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are and the judges saw that beauty is not about being the youngest it’s just who you are as a person. It’s the total package.”
Szczepanowski was elated when she heard her name called.
“I didn’t think I was going to win. There were so many beautiful, intelligent, well spoken, and experienced women,” she said. “The fact that I won the top prize in my category, I couldn’t be happier.”
The pageant consisted of an interview before six judges, an opening gown portion, a fitness wear, evening gown and onstage question and answer session.
Along with her crown, Szczepanowski earned a cruise to the Bahamas, luggage, jewelry and a couple of other gifts.
“I believe Ms. World Elite is this smart, stylish, stiletto clad woman who exemplifies success, independence and glamour,” Szczepanowski said. “What I’m going to do is incorporate the title into my current lifestyle, which I’m so proud of.”
Szczepanowski, a veteran of pageantry, has promoted a message of women empowerment through her career. But she said that earning the Ms. World Elite title marks an end to her pageantry days.
The Melville-based litigation attorney will continue both her professional and charity work, however. She’s also the founder of both Everything Lidia, a multi-platform lifestyle enterprise, and the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness, a nonprofit that helps prevent crime and violence against women of all ages.
Throughout her experience in pageantry, Szczepanowski said, she’s learned that being authentic and genuine is one of the most beautiful and attractive features that any person can carry.
She added, “Everyone has their own beautiful way about them and if more people were true to themselves I think we’d all be better from it.”