‘Cultural revolution’: Miss America ditches swimsuits, says won’t judge on physical appearance

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New Delhi | Updated: June 6, 2018 10:52:51 AM

In a historic step, the first in about a hundred years, Miss America contestants will not walk the ramp in swimsuits this year, the organisers confirmed on Tuesday as the pageant aims to redefine its role in an era of female empowerment and gender equality.

miss america, miss america no swimsuits, no swimsuits in miss america, miss america contest, swimsuit competition, miss america newsNina Davuluri (in yellow) celebrates with other contestants after being crowned Miss America 2014. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

In a historic step, the first in about a hundred years, Miss America contestants will not walk the ramp in swimsuits this year, the organisers confirmed on Tuesday as the pageant aims to redefine its role in an era of female empowerment and gender equality. Swimsuits have been a part of Miss America since its first edition that took place in 1921 on the Atlantic City boardwalk.

However, the Miss America Organization, which is now mostly under a female leadership, on Tuesday said that it was scrapping the swimsuit competition, starting at the national contest in September, in a sweeping change that will also reshape local and state contests.

“We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era #byebyebikini,” @MissAmericaOrg said in a tweet which featured a bikini vanishing in a puff of smoke.

Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor who is now the organization’s chairwoman, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America, outlined these changes. “We are no longer a pageant,” said Carlson, who won the 1989 Miss America contest and went on to become an anchor at Fox News. “We are a competition.”

“I’ve talked to tons of young people who’ve said to me, ‘I’d love to be a part of that program, but I don’t want to parade around in a swimsuit,” she said. “I get it. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” she added. “That’s huge.”

Carlson said that both the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the nearly century-old competition would be scrapped.

She said that it is going to be what comes out of their mouth that they are interested in and when they talk about their social impact initiatives. “We want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships,” Carlson said.

Carlson has been a champion of the #MeToo movement combating sexual abuse and harassment by powerful men in business, entertainment and media. She also sued the former chief executive at Fox News for sexual harassment two years ago and is the first former Miss America to chair the board of the organization.

“I never thought I’d be the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization, but here I am and we’re moving it forward and we’re evolving in this cultural revolution,” she said. Carlson was named in January following the removal of the organization’s chief executive for making sexist and derogatory comments.

The 2019 Miss American competition will take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on September 9 and air on ABC.

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