"We are no longer a pageant", declared Gretchen Carlson, chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization, as she outlined sweeping changes for the 2019 Miss America Competition this morning. She said the swimsuit portion is not the highest-rated section of the broadcast and viewers seem to be more interested in the talent competition.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outwards, physical appearance".
"The people acting like someone murdered their dog because Miss America is getting rid of the swimsuit portion are exactly why it needs to be gotten rid of. You're just mad you can't gawk at them like meat anymore", another wrote.
"Miss America's new mission statement is: 'To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women,"' said Regina Hopper, the group's president and CEO.
"We want more women to know they are welcome in this organization", she said.
She was crowned Miss America in 1989.
Carlson said the end of the swimsuit segment - a staple of beauty pageants - reflects changing cultural norms and the latest wave of female empowerment initiatives. Once her contract ended, however, Carlson filed (and eventually settled) a lawsuit against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, and has since been an outspoken advocate against sexual harassment.
Miss Georgia 2017 Alyssa Beasley participates in Swimsuit challenge during Miss America 2018 - Second Night of Preliminary Competition at Boardwalk Hall Arena September 7, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Carlson said the evening-wear portion of the competition will also be changed to allow women to wear something other than a gown if they want. But I did recognize the significance of that part of the competition.
"In the climate of #MeToo, I think it's a really wise decision", she said.
Miss America has undergone a major overhaul in response to the Me Too movement. Because numerous state and local competitions that decide the Miss America finalists have already begun, the dropping of the swimsuit portion will not take effect at those levels until next year's competition, the organization said. Instead, contestants can wear whatever makes them feel comfortable as they talk about their goals and accomplishments.