“We are no longer a pageant,” declared Gretchen Carlson, chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization, as she outlined sweeping changes for the 2019 Miss America Competition this morning. Those include eliminating the swimsuit portion of the event as well as tweaking the evening gown section. Effective this September, the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia “will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance.”
Carlson, a former Miss America and Fox News contributor who sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in 2016, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday to deliver the news that candidates will no longer be judged on their looks. “We’re interested in what makes you, you,” she said.
The changes will first be seen during ABC’s September 9 live broadcast from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
The event originated in 1921 as a bathing beauty revue, but will henceforth see candidates participate in a live interactive session with the judges rather than swanning by in high heels and high-cut swimsuits. Each 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 former evening gown competition will now give participants “the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives.”
The talent portion remains unchanged. Carlson was asked about a potential ratings loss in kiboshing the swimsuits and she told GMA, “That’s not a highly-rated part of the competition. People actually like the talent part of the competition.”
Carlson said on GMA, “We want to be open, transparent, inclusive to women who may not have felt comfortable participating in our program before. But look, we have always had talent and scholarship and we need to message that particular of the program better as well.”
She added, “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.”