Miss America’s swimsuit round has arguably been the most iconic part of the competition since it was held for the first time in 1921, but organisers have made the decision to scrap the controversial segment to mirror modern times.
It was revealed on Tuesday that when the pageant returns this September, contestants will no longer be required to parade across the stage in skimpy bathing suits and won’t be judged on their “outward appearance”.
The move follows a huge managerial shake-up at the organisation, which saw three top jobs at Miss America going to women. Officials are now vowing to move the pageant forward to reflect the present “cultural revolution”, with movements such as #MeToo gathering momentum.
Head of the board of trustees, and former Miss America 1989, Gretchen Carlson told Good Morning America that the board made the decision after hearing feedback from potential contestants who said they were put off by the swimsuit round.
She said: “We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition. We are moving it forward and evolving it in this cultural revolution.
“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.
“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.”
Current Miss America Cara Mund, who was crowned in September last year, also took to Twitter to comment on the news, writing: “We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era #byebyebikini.”
In place of the swimsuit portion of the competition, contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges, and be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job of Miss America.
And it isn’t just the swimwear portion of the pageant that has been dropped, as hopefuls will no longer compete in an evening wear section either, instead being asked to wear attire that makes them feel “confident and expresses their personal style”.
Carlson, who won the coveted crown herself in 1989, landed the top job at the organisation after recently becoming an advocate for victims of sexual harassment and championing the #MeToo movement which has gathered huge support in Hollywood.
In 2016, she settled a lawsuit against former former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, after suing her former boss for sexual harassment.