Entertainment & Arts

Miss America waves bye bye to bikinis

Miss America 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The "swimsuit challenge" is no more

The Miss America beauty pageant is scrapping its swimwear segment and will no longer judge competitors on physical appearance.

The evening gown section is also being axed, with contestants asked to wear something that makes them feel good and expresses their personal style instead.

Former winner Gretchen Carlson broke the news on ABC's Good Morning America.

"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outwards, physical appearance. That's huge," she said.

"We are no longer a pageant," said Carlson, the first former Miss America to be named chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America organisation.

"We are a competition."

Instead of the swimming costume segment, there will be interviews with the contenders, who will be asked about their passion, intelligence and understanding of the Miss America role.

Carlson explained: "We've heard from a lot of young women who say, 'we'd love to be a part of your programme but we don't want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit'. So guess what, you don't have to do that anymore.

"Who doesn't want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person, from the inside of your soul?"

She added: "That's what we're judging them on now."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gretchen Carlson was crowned Miss America in 1989

Miss America's former executive director Sam Haskell, president Josh Randle, and other board members resigned over a scandal last year over vulgar emails disparaging contestants.

In the emails, published by the Huffington Post, pageant officials made degrading remarks about past winners' appearance, intellect, and sex lives.

Following the revelations, Carlson became part of an all-female leadership team at Miss America.

She was crowned Miss America in 1989.

Recently, Carlson has been an advocate for victims of sexual harassment and a champion of the #MeToo movement.

In 2016, she settled a lawsuit against former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who stepped down from his role after mounting pressure from several employees with similar accusations. Ailes died last year.

The 2019 Miss America Competition airs live on ABC on 9 September.

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