Miss America says bye bye bikinis
THERE she is, Miss America … fully clothed.
Miss America is scrapping its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on their looks, the organisation announced, according to the New York Post.
"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 Carlson, chairwoman of the Miss America Organisation told Good Morning America.
"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," she said. "That's what we're judging them on now."
Since its start, nearly 100 years ago, the pageant has been known for featuring beauty queens parading around in skimpy bikinis and sparkly gowns.
Now, the Miss America hopefuls from all 50 states and DC will be asked to show off their wits and passion in a live interactive session with the judges.
Instead of evening gowns, contestants will be asked to wear something that portrays their personal style and makes them feel confident.
The major changes come after the CEO and top executives resigned in December, because of leaked e-mails in which they made lewd and sexist comments about past winners.
In January, Carlson was named the first former winner to serve as the organisation's leader and four other former Miss America winners were also named to the board.
Carlson has been at the forefront of sexual-harassment issues for several years, following a lawsuit against Fox News chief Roger Ailes in 2016. Ailes died last year.
"That the board is now made up of people who have actually held the title is very exciting to me," former Miss New York 2012 and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan told the New York Post.
Hagan, whose appearance was vulgarly criticised in emails by former CEO Sam Haskell and former president Josh Randle, said she was pleased with the changes.
"It's shifting the focus to what it is that makes a Miss America, to what it is that she really does during her year of service, which is speak on an issue and interact with people," said Hagan, who is running for a congressional seat in Alabama.
Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989, said the changes would hopefully inspire people to be part of the program, which she said was "no longer a pageant," but a competition.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission