(THE MISS AMERICA ORGANIZATION) – The nearly century-old Miss America competition will drop its well-known swimsuit competition this year and will no longer judge contestants based on their physical appearance, a top organization official said on Tuesday (June 5).
The event, founded as a swimsuit beauty pageant intended to draw visitors to Atlantic City at the end of the summer, will no longer call itself a “pageant,” in a bid to modernize its image at a time when the #MeToo movement has shone a harsh light on pervasive sexual discrimination and harassment in American life.
“A candidate will no longer be judged on her physical beauty. It’s about what is in her brain, and what’s in her heart, what her passion is for a scholarship and education,” Regina Hopper, president and CEO of the Miss America Organization told Reuters.
Hopper, a former Miss Arkansas and a contestant of the 97-year-old competition said that instead the program will highlight the character of each contestant to keep audiences engaged.
“So if you watch any show right now and you say ‘oh, I’m pulling for that person.’ You’re really pulling for that person because of their background and their story and how they got there,” she said. “So that’s what we’re wanting to do.”
The swimsuit competition will be replaced by a panel interview of contestants and despite rumors, the evening gown component will be still present, not “to be judged on her personal appearance but she will be judged on how she comes out, and how she talks about her social impact initiative,” Hopper said.
The group’s top leadership resigned in December following media reports that former executives had sent lewd emails about past winners.