Miss America Swimsuit Competition

Bye, Bye Bikini: Miss America Drops Swimsuit Competition

June 05, 2018 - 4:35 pm

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (1010 WINS/AP) -- The Miss America contest won't be what it used to be, starting with the next contest in September.

For one thing, contestants won't parade in swimsuits.

"We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," said former Miss America and former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson who now heads the Miss America Board of Trustees.

She made the announcement on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes led to his departure, said the board had heard from potential contestants who lamented, "We don't want to be out there in high heels and swimsuits."

"Guess what?" she said. "You don't have to anymore."

In place of the swimsuit competition, contestants will participate in an interactive session with the judges "where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America," the organization said in a statement.

Carlson also promises changes to the evening wear portion of the competition, saying it will not judge women on their chosen attire.

All this follows an email scandal in which former leaders of the organization denigrated the intelligence and personal lives of former Miss Americas. That prompted a shake-up at the Miss America Organization that resulted in the top three leadership positions being held by women.

The event will be held in Atlantic City on Sept. 9.

Carlson said she is not worried ratings for the nationally televised broadcast might suffer. She said that the swimsuit portion is not the highest-rated portion and that viewers seem more interested in the talent competition.

The pageant began nearly 100 years ago as a bathing beauty contest to keep tourists coming to this seaside resort after Labor Day. But in recent decades, women's groups and others have complained that making contestants parade across the stage in bathing suits and high heels is outdated, sexist and more than a little silly.

(© 2018 1010 WINS. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)