‘Miss America’ Eliminates Swimsuit Competition: "We Are No Longer A Pageant"

Bill Clark  CQ Roll Call  Newscom via ZUMA

Bill Clark CQ Roll Call Newscom via ZUMA

Gretchen Carlson, the new chairperson of the Miss America Organization, said on ABC's Good Morning America, "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance". 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.

"We want more women to know they are welcome in this organization", she said.

Viewers can watch the 2019 Miss America Competition live on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 9 p.m. ET. "So, whoever is objectifying, it's their problem", she said. "You don't have to do that anymore".

Despite its mission statement as "the nation's leading advocate for women's education", the Miss America competition has long had trouble convincing audiences that it's the bastion of feminist empowerment it claims to be. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives".

Miss America contestants appear onstage during the 2017 Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey. And she trusts that there will be more interest not just from new contestants, but also from sponsors looking to partner with the competition.

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The 97-year-old contest will no longer judge the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia on outward physical appearance.

"I wish it wasn't gone - it did show fitness", McKinney said, and being Miss Virginia - or Miss America, for that matter - "is such a tough job - physically, mentally, emotionally".

This is also the first time the Miss America Organization's top three leadership positions are all simultaneously held by women. She said she got into competitions for the opportunities - scholarship money, networking and chances to expose her talents to a wide audience.

This leadership change followed the revelation that the men formerly in charge of the pageant "regularly maligned, fat-shamed and slut-shamed the former Miss Americas, calling them shocking names and in one case laughing at the suggestion that one of the women should die", according to leaked emails published in the Huffington Post.

Miss America has undergone a major overhaul in response to the Me Too movement. Historically, the one thing every Miss America has had in common is that they have been conventionally attractive, a definition that has expanded over time. That's straightforward. But the aim of Miss America is now more ambiguous, something that's evident in the event's few vague requirements, which state that each contestant must be: a woman, a USA citizen, single and never married, and "of good moral character".

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