The Miss America pageant has just axed their swimsuit competition
Since 1921, the Miss America pageant has been championing beautiful and scantily clad women, whom they judge solely on their physical appearance. It's anything but progressive, especially now, in a time when many of us are experiencing the benefits of fourth wave feminism. But while it may be an institution that is anarchic and regressive in its values, it's place in public consciousness remains entrenched with millions of people across the globe watching the proceedings year after year.
However, since Gretchen Carlson took over as the chairwoman of the board of trustees for the Miss America Organisation, we've had reason to believe that the 96-year-old competition would be brought into the future. And now, ahead of this year's pageant in September, it appears that Carlson has indeed stepped up, for we will no longer be seeing something that has defined the event for so long: the swimsuit competition.
Since assuming her role as chairwoman for the Miss America Organisation, Gretchen Carlson has made it clear that the annual proceedings will now be about empowering and celebrating women, rather than reducing them to their base body parts. On June the 5th, Carlson appeared on Good Morning America to announce her new mission statement, "We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition," she asserted.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That means that we will no longer have a swimsuit competition and that is official. We will no longer be judging women when they come out in their chosen attire. Whatever they chose to do, it will be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in."
Considering that the Miss America pageant started out as a swimsuit competition, this is a big deal, and will likely change the face of the competition from here on out. However, this is not the only change that Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989, wants to implement.
When asked about whether the pageant will start embracing diversity - both in terms of race and size - Carlson explained that she wants women from all walks of life to feel like they can participate. "We are interested in what makes you, you. At the end of the day, we hand out scholarships to these women, we want more women to know that they are welcome in this organisation," she stated.
Now, rather than focusing on appearances, judges will get to know "who the person is and their goals and substance."
How this will be determined is yet unknown, but Carlson and the judges have plenty of time: the proposed changes came too late for state pageants this year, but will be in place for 2019.
Carlson, who is a former Miss America winner used her $50,000 in winnings to pay for her final year at Stanford University. She has since been transparent about the fact that the pageant helped to launch her career in television and presenting.