Miss America on Tuesday announced that it will no longer judge contestants based on their physical appearance and said it will eliminate its swimsuit competition.
“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,” Carlson announced.
“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 added.
That’s what contestants will be judged on now, Carlson added. “We are no longer a pageant,” but are a competition.
Carlson joined the all-female leadership team at the Miss American Organization earlier this year after an email scandal forced top male leadership to step down.
“We are now open, inclusive and transparent and I want to inspire thousands of young people across this country to come and be a part of our program,” Carlson said on Tuesday. “We want you and we want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships.”
Miss America contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in a live interactive session with the judges.
They will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence, and understanding of Miss America’s job, GMA reported.
The organization is scrapping the notorious swimsuit competition after it originally began as a swimsuit pageant 97 years ago. The Miss America organization will instead ask them to express their personal style in clothes they feel confident in. Contestants will also no longer be required to wear an evening gown.
The big changes to Miss America had been expected since the Miss America organization is now being led entirely by women for the first time.
Just last month Regina Hopper was appointed the president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp was named as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Foundation. They joined Carlson, who was named chairwoman in December.
The next Miss America competition is September 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
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