Miss America is joining 2018 by ditching the outdated swimsuit competition
The 2019 Miss America Pageant is going to look a lot different next year, thanks to the organization’s all-female leadership. Miss America announced this morning that they will immediately eliminate the swimsuit portion of the contest and replace it with a segment where the women discuss their plans, goals and dreams.
“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” said chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors Gretchen Carlson. “That’s huge.”
The swimsuit contest portion of the Miss America competition isn’t the only change that’s coming. Carlson said that the organization will also allow contestants to wear whatever they’d like during the evening gown segment of the show and that it will be more inclusive to women with bodies of “all shapes and sizes.”
In addition, while the talent competition will remain, other portions will focus on social impact initiatives, personal ambition, and forwarding causes.
Why these sudden changes to the 97-year-old event? There’s a big reason. The organization suffered a big #MeToo shakeup in December when the CEO as well as the board of directors chairman resigned following a report that they disparaged contestants’ appearances and sex lives over email. They were replaced by an all-female leadership team, all of whom have past pageant experience. In May, Regina Hopper (Miss Arkansas 1989) was appointed president and CEO while Marjorie Vincent-Tripp (Miss America 1991) was named chair of the Board of Trustees. They join Carlson, who was Miss America in 1989.
The women also come with significant business savvy: Hopper is the former CEO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America, Vincent-Tripp is an assistant attorney general at the Florida Office of the Attorney General, and Carlson is a former Fox News journalist who filed a successful sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
Meanwhile, the official Miss America Twitter account, helmed by current Miss America Cara Mund, tweeted “We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era,” and added the hashtag #ByeByeBikini.
At the same time, the organization announced that a “Miss America 2.0” website and campaign would be launching soon.
The public reaction to the change has been mixed, with some cheering on the organization for its progressiveness and inclusion, and others worrying about the loss of tradition and the issue of obesity.
“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment” Carlson said in a statement. “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.”