In what could be a revolutionary step, and an example for beauty pageants worldwide, the Miss America Organization, which organizes the Miss America Pageant every year, announced that it is doing away with the famed swimsuit round, from the 2019 edition onwards.
We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era #byebyebikini #MissAmerica2019 pic.twitter.com/pgyHotpoYz
— Miss America Org (@MissAmericaOrg) June 5, 2018
Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, announced on “Good Morning America” that the event will no longer feature a swimsuit portion. “Miss America will be a competition, not a pageant”, Carlson has been quoted as saying on the show. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge,” she said.
Carlson also said the new Miss America competition will be more inclusive to women of “all shapes and sizes.”
The pageant was expected to undergo some significant changes, as for the first time in its 97 year old history, it is being led completely by women. This revolutionary move came soon after a scandal, wherein it was revealed that top leaders and employees of the organization had made derogatory comments towards contestants, about their appearances.
Mr Amitabh Kumar, Head of Media and Communication at Centre for Social Research said “It is essential that we make a move away from objectification of women. It is great to see the Miss America pageant take a step in the right direction, and hopefully it is followed across the world. I believe it is a follow up of the #MeToo movement, and certainly hope to see pop culture wake up to its misogynistic practices and take a stand.”
Swimsuit rounds have been a part of beauty pageants world over, with it making an appearance in the United States of America, as far back as 1880s. Typically used to judge the physical appearances of contestants, they have been criticized by various civil society groups, religious factions, and eminent personalities, but apart from a few instances, they have not been removed from a pageant’s flow of events. This is the first time that such a strong step has been taken, and we certainly hope that other pageants from around the world, emulate this move, and ensure that these pageants focus on the personality and achievements of women, as opposed to stereotypical notions of beauty.