Amid #MeToo, a 'Whole New Era' for Miss America

Bye-bye, bikinis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2018 9:25 AM CDT
Next Miss America Show Will Be Unlike Any Other
Contestants wear swimsuits as they compete in the 2016 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Say goodbye to the swimsuit portion of the 97-year-old Miss America competition, now under female leadership. "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance … and that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition," Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989 and the new chairwoman of the Miss America Organization, told ABC News on Tuesday. She's also promising to revamp the evening gown portion of what she calls a "competition" for scholarships, not a pageant. "We're evolving in this cultural revolution" and hope "to be open, transparent, inclusive to women who may not have felt comfortable participating in our program before," Carlson says. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in."

The organization's official Twitter account—which tweeted a video of a bikini going up in smoke—described the changes as ushering in "a whole new era" for the competition, to take place Sept. 9 in Atlantic City, per CNN. "We've heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We'd love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,' so guess what, you don't have to do that anymore," Carlson said. Rather than walk across a stage in a bikini, female contestants will engage in an interactive session with judges. Crediting the #MeToo movement she helped fuel with showing "thousands of women … that they can stand up and speak up and their voices will be heard," Carlson doesn't expect much of an effect on ratings and predicts more sponsorships as a result. (More Miss America stories.)

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