The 97-year-old Miss America pageant is scraping the swimsuit and evening gown competition and will no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance.
“We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition,” Former Miss America and chairwoman of Miss America board of directors Gretchen Carlson said on Tuesday. The contestants will instead take part in a live interactive session with the judges where they will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence, and overall understanding of the job of Miss America.
“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your programme but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,’ so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore,” Gretchen said.
Instead of the evening gown portion, the women will wear attire that makes them feel confident and express their personal styles. They won’t be judged on how they look in a bikini or floor length sequined gown but on how they are as a person.
“Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul. That’s what we’re judging them on now,” stated Gretchen .
Gretchen has been a champion of the #MeToo movement combating sexual abuse and harassment by powerful men in business, entertainment and media. She 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 organisation.
The decision to scrap the swimsuit portion isn’t entirely startling, as the contestants had received misogynistic comments by the organisation’s chief executive which went viral last year.