Miss America Scholarship Pageant is one of the most prestigious pageants in the history of pageantry. The beauty contest is known for the participation of the most stunning and intelligent women across the country, who compete for a crown young girls dream of.
Most notably, Miss America is known for the swimsuit portion of the competition which previously sparked controversy throughout the pageant’s history. However, it was recently removed from future Miss America Pageant competitions, by Gretchen Carlson, the new chairperson of the Miss America Organization.
Since the beginning of the Miss America Pageant history, the swimsuit has always been apart of the competition. So how can this 97-year-old rich in history event be removed?
If there were never formal standards for physical beauty and fitness, then the woman of the Miss America pageant were there to create them. The contestants all primarily shared similar body types; tall and thin, with bodies deemed impossible to emulate.
Though not all contestants who compete fit the stereotype, the diverse image of showcasing different body types, still, is not present strong enough to demonstrate the importance of self-love and accepting your body as you are.
“The swimsuit portion of competition has encouraged me to be a more health conscience person but I never liked the idea of walking onstage in a bikini. I journeyed my way to feeling the most confident I could onstage by losing 50 pounds with a trainer and nutritionist,” said Treneé McGee, a former Miss Connecticut state contestant for the Miss America Organization. “After having competed for the first time as a young adult in the pageant system, it was clear to me that my body had to look a certain way in order for me to win. People made this clear to me through all sorts of platforms, which made me feel as though this was something that maybe wasn’t for me.”
According to Carlson, McGee isn’t the only one who doesn’t like the swimsuit portion of the competition, as countless young girls desire to be a part of the Miss America program but don’t like the idea of strutting in a bikini and high heels on live television with millions of viewers watching.
With the elimination of the 97-year-old swimsuit event, the new Miss America competition will be more inclusive to women of all shapes and sizes and will no longer judge their contestants on physical appearance.
“When Gretchen Carlson announced the swimsuit change, I supported the cause of reinventing a scholarship organization dedicated to empowering women,” said McGee. “In my heart, what I grew most excited about was the young women who now feel like they have a chance to be apart of something they would normally believe isn’t a space for them.”
In replace of the swimsuit portion of the competition, there will be a new live interaction session with the judges, according to a statement by the Miss America Organization.
Contestants will now highlight their achievements and life goals and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition, to perform the job of Miss America.
More drastically, the elimination of the swimsuit portion isn’t the only big change coming to the stage according to Carlson. The evening gown competition will be revamped as young woman will now have the ability to wear whatever they want.
“We’re no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire, their evening wear, whatever they choose to do. It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in,” Carlson said in an interview on Good Morning America.
The shift in the Miss America Organization will emphasize the building of strong young women through their new mission statement: To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women, as reported by Miss America president and CEO Regina Hopper.
“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” Carlson said in a statement. “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 groundbreaking swimsuit changes set to take place at this year’s Miss America competition will be a spark that will light the fire of women empowerment for girls around the nation.
“As a resident teaching artist, I travel around the state of Connecticut teaching theater to all students from all backgrounds and walks of life. Through this experience, I’ve noticed is that young women of today, are redefining and recreating what has been considered to be beautiful,” said McGee. “Strong, passionate, unstoppable and outspoken for decades. I see them as young women who are really challenging the minds of society by expanding the ways we think.”
To witness these new changes in organization, the 2019 Miss America pageant will air live from Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sept. 9 2018. For ticket and event information, visit: www.missamerica.org