Miss America has rid itself of the swimsuit competition, claiming the, “event will no longer focus on physical appearance.”
The organization said, “this change in format signals the end of the swimsuit portion of the competition. “In its place, 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.”
Alterations of the evening gown competition will take place as well. The organization stated it will, “give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidencein evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives.”
The talent portion however, will remain the same.
Gretchen Carlson, former Fox News host, former Miss America and chairwoman of the Miss America Organization’s board, stated, “Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment.”
Carlson is a prime advocate to fight against sexual harassment. Two years ago, she settled a lawsuit against a previous coworker, Roger Ailes, for sexually harassing her at work. In 2017, Carlson told PEOPLE, “In general, when women are sexually harassed…it’s almost as if all of your self-esteem and confidence drips away slowly. It drains down from your body. You can be the strongest woman in the entire world, but you feel so alone.” She instantly became relatable amongst women working at Fox News at the time, and started a ‘domino-effect’ of women coming forward with their own experiences. “Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement,” Carlson stated.
Miss America Debate:
Due to the fact that the organization, according to its website, judges women, “largely based on their general appeal in appearance, personality, conversations with the judges, and interactions with the crowds,” it has caused much controversy in recent decades about how women are perceived. According to its website, the organization, “held attitudes towards what it meant to be an ideal American woman,” when it was first created in the 1920s, although that perspective could still hold true today. In most recent decades, “young women increasingly began to see the Miss American program as an opportunity to pursue higher education, professional opportunities and social causes,” yet the notion of women ranking and competing against each other solely based on their appearances and presentations on stage can have a negative message to young girls and other women.