The Miss America Organization will no longer judge contestants on their appearance. Organizers have also decided to scrap the swimsuit competition from the pageant.
The highly esteemed competition began in Atlantic City, New Jersey almost a century ago. It was originally coordinated to attract tourists to the seaside resort the weekend after Labor Day.
An e mail scandal erupted last December in which former Miss America officials insulted the intelligence, looks, and sex lives of former winners. This led to some reconsideration about the structure of the “beauty contest.” Since then the top three leadership positions within the organization are now held by women.
“We’re not going to judge you on your appearance because we are interested in what makes you you,” Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who is head of the organization’s board of trustees, said while making the announcement Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”
Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes led to his departure, said the board has heard from potential contestants saying, “We don’t want to be out there in high heels and swimsuits.”
“Guess what?” she said. “You don’t have to anymore.”
She also said the group will make changes to the evening wear portion of the competition, adding it will not judge women on their chosen attire.
“It’s what comes out of their mouths that we care about,” she said.
The changes will be implemented on the next Miss America pageant which is scheduled to air on September 9.