There are many things that could be considered a tradition and the world may hold onto them for years before they realize that it is time for the tradition to end. That is the case with the Miss America competition and a change is taking place that has actually taken both supporters and critics by surprise. It is going to change the face of Miss America but as you will see, it is a move that may change it for the better.
The tradition that is changing is the swimsuit competition. The Miss America pageant has had the swimsuit competition as a part of the pageant since it first started in 1921. In that year, the swimsuits were a rather conservative one piece that covered the upper thighs and cleavage. There were even some years when it was canceled in the 1920s and 1930s because it was considered too risqué. The winners of the pageant were even given their crown in their swimsuits until 1947. Now, in 2018, the swimsuit competition is being eliminated altogether.
The decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition was announced by Gretchen Carlson, the Chair of the Miss America organization. She announced it to ABC’s good morning America by saying: “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.” The decision was made that Miss America would be more of a competition and not a pageant.
JUST IN: "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That's huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition." – @GretchenCarlson on the major changes coming to @MissAmericaOrg https://t.co/ICRIsRN71h pic.twitter.com/IWKcVvCC50
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 5, 2018
Ms. Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989 has been an advocate against sexual harassment. She is a former Fox News host and filed a lawsuit against the executives, claiming sexual harassment. The lawsuit was settled in 2016.
There were misogynistic and sexist comments uncovered among the leadership behind the scenes of the Miss America competition. That is why Carlson was invited to become the chair and all of the leadership teams are now headed by women. This also includes former winners of the Miss America competition.
Many of the changes were also brought about in response to the Me Too movement. That movement, founded in 2006, has the objective of helping survivors of sexual violence.
Carlson also had the following to say: “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. You’re welcome. Please come join us.”
Another change that is taking place to the Miss America competition is the evening gown competition. Both the evening gown and swimsuit competitions were the top-rated portions of the program. There was little resistance that took place within the organization to the adjustments.
The upcoming Miss America competition, scheduled for September 9 will feature these changes.