Bye, bye bikinis! The Miss America pageant just announced it is getting rid of the bathing suit portion of the competition and will no longer judge women on their physical apperance. Instead, contestants will participate in a live interactive session with the judges.
"We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” said Gretchen Carlson, chair of the board of trustees, in a press release. "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."
Along with scrapping swimsuits, the board also decided to eliminate the evening gown portion from the contest to "give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives." Talent will remain a highlight of the show.
"We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We’d love to be a part of your program 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 added. "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?"
Miss America Email Scandal
These changes come after an email scandal rocked the Miss America Organization. The emails, published by HuffPost last December, showed Sam Haskell, the former chief executive, laughing off vulgar comments about past winners. "I have decided that when referring to a woman who was once Miss America, we are no longer going to call them Forever Miss Americas… please change all script copy to reflect that they are Former Miss Americas," Sam wrote in an email to lead writer Lewis Friedman, who responded, "I’d already changed 'Forevers' to 'C–ts.' Does that work for you?" In another email forwarded by Sam, former winners were referred to as "a pile of malcontents and has beens who blame the program for not getting them where they think they can go."
Miss America contestants in 1947.
Shortly after the emails leaked, Sam stepped down along with former president Josh Randle. Regina Hopper and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp have since been appointed to replace the disgraced execs — and are seemingly behind the major changes to the competition. Despite the much-needed update to the program, some critics believe it is not enough. "If this were truly a sentiment she believed, then she would cancel the entire Miss America competition," one Twitter user wrote before another added, "Defund patriarchy, cancel Miss America. This is meaningless."
Tickets for Miss America 2019 go on sale today, June 5 will take place Sunday, September 9, 2018.