WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Miss America organization executives have announced on Tuesday that the pageant will no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance.
- The event overhaul is credited to the Me Too movement, according to Former Fox News anchor and 1989 Miss America Gretchen Carlson, who is now the organization’s new chairman.
- In 2014, Miss World eliminated the swimsuit portion, followed by Miss Teen USA two years later.
Starting this year, Miss America’s swimsuit competition will be replaced by “a live interactive session with the judges,” in which each participant “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.”
Controversies have hounded the Miss America board after a HuffPost report revealed emails from pageant leaders and staff containing vulgar language about former contestants. Board chairman Lynn Weidner and chief executive Sam Haskell then stepped down in December.
Carlson announced, “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.”
Carlson emphasized on Good Morning America Tuesday that the “pageant” will now be referred to as a “competition,” with the organization aiming to be “open, transparent and inclusive,” especially to women who may not have felt comfortable “to be out there in high heels in a swimsuit.”
The hashtag #byebyebikini was also launched on social media.
When Miss America was first launched in 1921, it was a swimsuit pageant used to promote Atlantic City beaches. Over the years, the winner of the swimsuit competition was the most likely to win the crown.
Pageant coach Valerie Hayes stated that eliminating the segment has been talked about for years, but the new leadership powered through, especially since several board members are former contestants who know the pressure of appearing in a bikini on television.
Hayes said more women might now be inspired to participate, and that Miss America executives can now “approach companies and say, ‘We’re a leadership program and an academic achievement program — that’s consistent with the mission and values of your company.’ ”
Carlson added that the evening gown competition will also be revamped: “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.”
She then dismissed the idea of a potential ratings drop due to some viewers wanting to see women in swimsuits, pointing out that it’s “not a highly rated part of the competition. People actually like the talent part of the competition.”
Source: The Washington Post