Miss Teen USA is putting its money where its mouth is. After years of claiming the swimsuit portion of the competition was meant to put women's athleticism on display, USA Today reports the pageant is finally doing away with swimsuits altogether. Instead, contestants will appear in athletic wear or "athleisure" wear. Jezebel calls the decision "definitely a step up," noting that judging the bikini bodies of teenagers as young as 15 “is a rather odd thing to do in the year 2016.” CNN quotes Paula Shugart, president of Miss Teen USA's parent-pageant Miss Universe, as saying the change "reflects an important cultural shift."
The new athletic wear competition, which will debut during the 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant July 30 in Las Vegas, will "celebrate women's strength, confidence, and beauty," Shugart says. “I have been an athlete my entire life," current Miss Teen USA Katherine Haik tells USA Today. "As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear." Meanwhile, the grown-up Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants don't appear quite ready to ditch their swimsuits just yet. In a strange coincidence, the Washington Post reports the Miss Universe pageant was actually formed in part because the 1951 Miss America winner refused to pose in a swimsuit, angering a sponsor who went on to withdraw support from that pageant and instead help found the Miss Universe pageant. (Read more Miss Teen USA stories.)