The life of a 92-year-old Beauty Queen

Krystyna Farley is a 92-year-old beauty pageant queen from the US state of Connecticut.

Although she grew up in a loving home in rural Poland, her childhood was cut short by the outbreak of war.

“My skin is beautiful,” Krystyna Farley says. “So I don’t wear any makeup, just lipstick – that’s all.”

Krystyna spent last year as the incumbent Ms Connecticut Senior America, before giving it up in May this year.

“People think that if you’re over 60 you’re finished – it’s not true,” Krystyna says, describing what she likes about beauty pageants.

“You’re showing people you are still alive and you still can do it – you can dance, you can sew, you can paint, you can do anything you want.”

Krystyna’s optimism and joie de vivre is all the more remarkable, bearing in mind the harrowing experiences of her teenage years.

She was born in eastern Poland in 1925, the second of five children. But when she was 14 Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland – triggering World War Two.

“In 1940 there was a knock on the door,” Krystyna says. She and her family, like hundreds of thousands of other Polish people, were rounded up on a bitingly cold night by the Russian military and Ukrainian police and bundled into cattle trains for a month-long journey into the frozen forests of the Ural Mountains.

Krystyna’s family were put to work harvesting timber in a Russian labour camp on a starvation diet. “We had nothing to eat, just black bread.”

The family spent two dreadful years there, until Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

When the war ended Krystyna settled in England, and it was there that Krystyna’s family were all reunited – her father, brothers and younger sister. She later learnt that her mother had died of malaria, but nothing was ever heard of her elder sister, Alice, who had also stayed behind in Uzbekistan.

Having settled down in the U.S. late in life she embraced the very American tradition of beauty pageants, entering the Ms Connecticut Senior America competition for the first time at the age of 70. She was second runner-up, but at her next attempt a few years later, she was first runner-up. At her third attempt, in 2016, she was crowned queen.

“My philosophy of life is to love everybody and be good to everybody. “If you don’t have people around you, you’re a dead pigeon, she said.”

In her last Ms Senior America finals, Krystyna competed against 44 other state queens and lost to a woman roughly 30 years her junior. She handed over her Ms Senior Connecticut crown to 2017’s queen back in May.

“No more pageants for me,” she says.

But with nine grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a fifth on the way, she still has plenty to keep her busy.