Sun City Hilton Head is known for a lot of things -- its golf courses, its clubs, its plethora of activities ... its beauty queens.
Yes, beauty queens.
There are four Ms. Senior America winners living in the Bluffton retirement community: Ms. South Carolina Senior America 2014 Dianne Gibb, 68; Ms. South Carolina Senior America 2013 Beverly Thiel, 69; Ms. South Carolina Senior America 2011 Diamond Riegel, 73; and Ms. Ohio Senior America 2013 Marti Skarupa, 67, who lives part-time in Ohio.
In a culture that sometimes stigmatizes women as they age, the pageant winners are among those who don't let the growing number of candles on their cake get in the way.
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"A lot of it's attitude," Gibb said. "I don't think about my age. I don't think I'm 68. I love to play the game, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?' And for me, it's always a lot younger than I am. I just don't think of myself as being old. So whenever I want to do something, I do it."
Gibb dances and acts, and says her hobbies keep her sharp. She said women have to break out of the mindset that they can't do things because they're "too old."
Riegel agrees. At 73, the interior decorator is thinking about starting a real estate career.
"My age is none of my business," she said with a laugh.
The secret to growing old gracefully is simply to enjoy the process and have a good attitude, Gibb and Riegel said.
"If you think positive, you attract positive," Gibb said.
Riegel said she grew up in a family of worriers so she has to make a conscious effort to reverse any negative thinking.
"Your mind is your most powerful asset," she said. "You have to set your mind goal for being happy. You have to actually set it. Some people have to set it more."
When Gibb's husband, Reavis, was sick with multiple myeloma for four years, he was in the hospital every day for treatment. They were around so many people every day who were dying. She said the two decided to focus on the positives as much as they could and enjoy his last years here.
"If you worry about what's going to happen, you may lose today," Gibb said. "And today may be all you have."
Another thing the women say is important to improving the aging process is laughter. Riegel said she likes to make fun of herself at times.
And finally, the women say you have to love yourself for who you are. Make peace with your past because everything that happens in your life builds who you are.
"Be happy with yourself and accept whatever it is that you feel you have tried very hard to accomplish and done your best to change," Riegel said. "And then be happy with where you are now and living in the present because the past is dead. You cannot change that no matter what you do. The future, as we all know, is the future. You have to be happy with yourself now."
While growing older can at times make people achy and cranky, and it brings lots of new medical terms and unpleasant conditions, aging also has its advantages.
"You have all this knowledge to look back on," Gibb said. "It just gives you a sense of confidence that allows you to be who you are and do what you want to do. You know, you've been there, done that, done it all. I think there are a lot of people who come to Sun City and find out that they can do things they didn't do when they were younger because they didn't think they could. They try it and find out they can."
When Gibb was a young girl, she did a lot of acting and dancing, but then she got busy with a career and life took over.
"And now we have the opportunity to go back and do all those things we really love to do again and couldn't do," she said. "It's wonderful."
Gibb offers these words of wisdom to other people in a similar stage of life: "If there was something that you always wanted to do, don't think you can't do it now because you're in the golden years. You can do it. If there's something you wanted to do your whole life, go for it. ... You're not too old. Do it. Don't let your age get in your way. Enjoying what you do keeps you young."
Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.