By Alisha Haridasani
The next Miss America will not have to strut around in a swimsuit on national TV to earn her crown. The organization that runs the beauty pageant announced it was changing the contest's format, part of an effort to evolve in a society shaken by the #MeToo movement.
“As society has evolved, so has Miss America,” said the reigning title holder, Cara Mund, in an interview with Cheddar. “This is a scholarship organization and scholarships don’t equal swimsuits.”
Miss America’s new chairwoman, Gretchen Carlson (Miss America 1989) announced the revised format on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday. In addition to banishing the bikini, which had been a part of the contest since its inception almost a century ago, the new format will be open to women of all shapes and sizes. The contest will focus on the talent and intelligence of the women on stage.
“We will no longer judge a candidate on their outward physical appearance,” said Carlson, who took over the organization in January after three of its top executives were forced out for making lewd comments about former pageant winners.
Carlson, a former Fox News anchor, became a prominent advocate for women’s rights after filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News’s late chairman, Roger Ailes, in 2016.
Her lawsuit was an early step in what became the #MeToo movement, with accusations of sexual harassment against Carlson's former Fox News colleague, Bill O'Reilly, and revelations of sexual harassment by the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men.
Though the image of Miss America has for decades been one of a slender, scantily clad woman walking across a stage awkwardly in high heels, the pageant has the ability to empower women too, said Mund.
“Yes you get to be glamorous sometimes, but there are these moments where you’re visiting a children’s hospital and you’re making a huge impact in their lives,” she said.
“It’s empowering women to give them the tool box, give them the launching pad for whatever comes next,” she added.
For the full interview, click here.