The Miss America is dropping its swimsuit competition from its televised broadcast, claiming it will no longer judge contestants on their appearance.
The organisation made the announcement with a video showing a bikini turning into dust with the hashtag ‘bye-bye bikini’.
They say the competition will now be made more inclusive to women ‘of all shapes and sizes’.
Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, announced on “Good Morning America” that the event will no longer feature a swimsuit portion.
Miss America will be a competition, not a pageant, Carlson said on the show.
“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge,” she said.
The official Miss America Twitter account tweeted a short video of a white bikini going up in a puff of smoke with the hashtag #byebyebikini.
In place of the swimsuit contest, the contestants will take part in a live interactive session with the judges, according to a statement from the Miss America Organization, “where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.”
But the elimination of swimsuits isn’t the only change coming to the 97-year-old event. The evening gown competition is being revamped as well. Carlson said contestants will now be able to wear “whatever they choose.”
Contestants will also discuss how they would advance their social-impact initiatives during this part of the contest. The talent portion of the competition will remain.
The rise of the #MeToo movement is powering the changes, Carlson said.
“We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues,”she said in the statement. “Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”
Some changes to the pageant’s format 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 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 trio takes over for the leaders of the Miss America Organization who resigned in December after the Huffington Post revealed that leaders and employees had sent emails disparaging pageant contestants, including references to their weight and sex lives.
A new era for the organization
In the statement announcing the new leaders, Miss America said the all-female team signaled a new era for the organization, best known for its widely televised pageants.
In another first, all three leaders are former pageant winners in the Miss America system.
Hopper, former CEO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America, was Miss Arkansas 1983. Vincent-Tripp, an assistant attorney general at the Florida Office of the Attorney General, was Miss America 1991. Finally, Gretchen Carlson, the advocate and former Fox News host, was Miss America 1989.
The next Miss America competition is September 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.