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Miss America gets rid of swimsuit competition: 'We are no longer a pageant'

Gretchen Carlson, board chair for the organization that runs Miss America, says event will no longer focus on physical appearance.
2018 Miss America Competition - Show
Swimsuit challenges, like this one at the Miss America competition last September, are officially over, according to the organization.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Miss America contestants will no longer traipse across the stage wearing swimsuits. That’s because the women will no longer be judged on their physical appearance, according to the organization that runs the national contest.

The Miss America Organization announced its "groundbreaking" decision to scrap the swimsuit challenge in a statement Tuesday morning.

"This change in format signals the end of the swimsuit portion of the competition," the organization said. "In its place, each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America."

The Miss America Competition swimsuit competition is no longer an event.
Miss America contestants participate in the last-ever swimsuit competition last September 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.Getty Images

The organization said it also will alter its evening gown competition to "now give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives."

The talent portion of the event will remain intact.

“We are no longer a pageant," said Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who chairs the Miss America Organization's board of trustees. "Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment.”

Carlson, a former Miss America herself, has recently become a prominent advocate against sexual harassment. In 2016, she settled a lawsuit against former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, a case that prompted his departure from the network.

"We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues," Carlson said in the statement. "Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.“

Cara Mund, the current Miss America, welcomed the change in a Twitter post that showed a bikini disappearing in a puff of smoke.

"We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era #byebyebikini #MissAmerica2019," she wrote.

In 2016, the Miss Teen USA pageant, which is run by the Miss Universe Organization, dropped its swimsuit competition and replaced it with an athletic-wear portion. The decision reflected "an important cultural shift we're all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives," the organization said in a statement at the time.

The Miss America Competition will broadcast live on on ABC on Sept. 9.