The 97-year-old Miss America pageant is dropping the swimsuit and evening gown competition and will no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance, organizers announced on Tuesday.
According to The Washington Post, the changes come on the heels of a major shake-up of the Miss America board, which revealed emails sent by pageant leaders and staffers about former contestants, using crude language.
In addition, the #MeToo movement has credited to the change, as Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News anchor who won Miss America in 1989, was named the organization’s new chairman, said in a statement, “We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment.”
“We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement,” she added.
The organization is already celebrating the overhaul with a new hashtag, #byebyebikini, as shown above, and Carlson also appeared on Good Morning America Tuesday, and emphasized that the pageant will now be known as a competition. The organization’s goal is to be “open, transparent and inclusive,” she said.
“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program, but we don’t want to be out there in high heels in a swimsuit.’ So guess what? You don’t have to do that anymore,” Carlson said.
She also revealed details on the evening gown competition revamp, saying, “We’re no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire, their evening wear, whatever they choose to do. It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”
This new change will be effective this year, and the organization said in a news release that “each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she 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.”
For the full story, head on over to The Washington Post.
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