Miss America to end swimsuit competition

Miss America to end swimsuit competition

(RNN) - The Miss America competition will no longer have the swimsuit or evening gown portions of the program, the organization announced Tuesday.

The 97-year-old contest will no longer judge the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia on outward physical appearance. The group called the initiative "Miss America 2.0" in its statement.

"We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment," said Gretchen Carlson, chair of the board of trustees. "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. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement."

The competition will feature a live interactive session between contestants and judges in place of the swimsuit portion, starting this September. The organization said women would display their talents, passion and ambition for filling the role of Miss America.

The Miss America Organization said the talent portion would remain in place. Instead of the evening gowns, contestants will be able to choose their own evening attire to wear while discussing their "social impact initiatives."

"Miss America's new mission statement is: 'To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women,'" said Regina Hopper, president and CEO. "We want more young women to see this program as a platform upon which they can advance their desire to make a real difference and to provide them with the necessary skills and resources for them to succeed in any career path they choose."

Emails from former Miss America CEO Sam Haskell leaked in December, revealing he and others made insulting comments about former contestants. The situation led to multiple executives resigning, including Haskell.

Carlson, the former Fox News host and Miss America 1989, has become a prominent voice on ending sexual harassment in the workplace. She took over her current position at the beginning of the year, and the changes to Miss America come on the heels of the #MeToo movement, as well as the organization's controversies.

Carlson settled a lawsuit claiming she was harassed while with her former employer by Fox chairman Roger Ailes for $20 million.

The 2019 Miss America Competition is scheduled for Sept. 9.

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