I’ve never been a fan of beauty pageants—not even when I was a little girl. Even at a young age there was always something very unsettling to me about a woman strutting down a stage in nothing but a bikini with a panel of male judges essentially criticizing her body. It looks like Miss America has recognized how exploiting and anti-feminist that all is because they are FINALLY doing away with the swimsuit portion of the competition, in efforts to no longer center the pageant around judging a woman’s physical appearance.
“We are no longer a pageant,” Gretchen Carlson, former Miss America and now chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America organization, said on Good Morning America. “We are a competition.”
In a move to make the pageant less of a pageant, the organization has decided to replace the swimsuit portion of the competition with a live interactive session with judges, where contestants get an opportunity to demonstrate more of their intellect and passions. But wait, because there’s more.
The swimsuit portion isn’t the only part of the competition the organization is scrapping out. They are also doing away with the evening gown part as well. Contestants are now given the liberty to wear whatever makes them feel more comfortable and confident—whatever that may be. The focus now is less on their appearance and more so on how they plan on impacting society by being part of the Miss America Organization.
Can I just say, it’s about effing time this happened. Miss America along with a lot of other beauty pageants have always tried to make it seem as if they were about “impacting society” and doing work for the greater good but we all knew it was all really about judging women on their looks. As a woman, it was always incredibly hard for me to watch and even stomach seeing young women being judged and ranked for how hot they looked in a bikini and how beautiful they looked in an evening gown.
“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. “Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul.”
The fact that Miss America has finally recognized the overall damaging impact that it has had not just on the women participating at the pageants but the millions that are watching—is huge. It’s a testament to the fact that society is changing—it’s progressing and part of that progression is doing away with old mentalities, such as associating a woman’s worth and value with her looks. Amen to that!