Photo: Donald Kravitz / Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions
Miss America's swimsuit competition is one of the ceremony's most iconic elements. But starting this year, the organization has decided to nix swimsuits altogether in an effort to be more body positive. (Related: Mikayla Holmgren Becomes the First Person with Down Syndrome to Compete In Miss Minnesota USA)
Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, made the announcement on ABC's Good Morning America earlier today. She explained that moving forward, Miss America will be more of a competition as opposed to a pageant.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," she said on the show. "That's huge." (Related: Katie Willcox Wants You to Know That You're So Much More Than What You See In the Mirror)
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) June 5, 2018
Carlson also added that the organization's main goal is to be more inclusive of women of all shapes and sizes. To do that, not only will they be "revamping the evening gown competition" by allowing contestants to wear whatever they choose, but they also plan on being "open, transparent [and] inclusive to women who may not have felt comfortable participating in our program before." (Related: The New Barbie Is Body Positive and Curvy)
"We have always had talent and scholarship and we need to message that part of the program better, as well," Carlson said on the show.
These welcomed moves were in part inspired by the #MeToo movement. "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," she said in the statement according to CNN. "Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement."
Carlson wants the changes being made to Miss America to represent the future. "We're not going to judge you on your outward appearance, because we're interested in what makes you, you," she said on GMA. "Whatever they choose to do, it's what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives." (Related: Is the Body Positive Movement All Talk?)
The next Miss America competition will be held September 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.