For the first time in nearly a century, the Miss America pageant will no longer hold the swimsuit competition portion of the event, thus welcoming all shapes and sizes. By doing so, the organization is taking a huge step forward for young women, empowering them to pursue their dreams through scholarship assistance. Contestants will now be able to showcase their knowledge, talents and points-of-view without their body image fogging the minds of the judges.
The change comes after the top leaders within the association resigned this past December following the revelation of emails in which previous pageant winners were belittled and called names. Forty-nine former Miss America winners signed a petition asking for Sam Haskell, chief executive, to step down after emails sent between him, staffers and board members that included sexist comments surrounding former contestants came to light.
Soon after Haskell stepped down, Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor and 1989 Miss America winner, was named the organization’s new chairman. Being a victim of sexual harassment, Carlson is a large advocate of the “Me Too” era. In a recent statement Carlson said “We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment.”
The board members unanimously voted to ditch the bikini portion of the upcoming pageant. The changes will be made immediate for Miss America, but will take longer to arrive at local and state events. Their decision to nix the swimsuit portion of the pageant is a game changer. The organization is taking an awesome step forward, empowering young women and showing them that they’re not judged based on their body image.
In replacement of the bikini portion, each contestant will “highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America” in an “interactive portion” with the judges, according to a statement from the Miss America Organization.
Pageant purists are shaking their heads at the fact there will no longer be a swimsuit portion of the event, claiming it simply isn’t Miss America. However, the whole idea behind wearing a bikini on stage takes away from the real reason behind the pageant: scholarship money. In making this change, the organization is eliminating criticisms received for being outdated and will give women the overarching message that their body isn’t the only reason they have won.
Women will no longer have to walk on stage in front of millions in a bikini and high heels to earn money to put towards a college degree. The change encourages young women to find the courage to stand up for what they believe in and have their voices be heard.