The Miss America competition will no longer judge contestants on the basis of physical appearance, the new leaders of the embattled organization disclosed Tuesday.
The changes mean the end of the swimsuit competition for the 51 women who compete for the title of Miss America in a pageant to be telecast Sept. 9 on ABC. Instead, each contestant will take part in a “live interactive session with the judges, 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,” the Miss America Organization said.
The modifications for the upcoming telecast were unveiled by Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who is chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization. Carlson came on board in January following a shakeup spurred by the disclosure of email correspondence that revealed Miss America leaders making disparaging remarks about current and former contestants.
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.
“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” said Carlson, chair of the board of trustees. ”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. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”
The Miss America telecast will still have an evening-wear competition but contestants will be encouraged to “outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing,” the org stated.