It's a new era for Miss America. The organisation announced a series of changes on Tuesday, including the elimination of its swimsuit competition and saying that contestants won't be judged based on physical appearance anymore.
"We are no longer a pageant," Gretchen Carlson, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, told Good Morning America. "We are a competition."
Carlson, the former Fox News host who took down Roger Ailes and created a conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace before the #MeToo era, is the first actual former pageant member to lead the Miss America Organization. For the first time in the organisation's history, the leadership team is comprised by only women — all of them former pageant winners.
Carlson was brought on following last year's scandal, when HuffPost reported on a series of emails by the organisation's top executives where they routinely slut-shamed, fat-shamed, and used misogynistic language to talk about former contestants.
In January, Calrson disclosed her plans to modernise Miss America and hinted that the swimsuit competition was on its way out. Instead of that portion of the pageant, Miss America contestants will participate in a live interactive session with the competition's judges.
Cara Mund, Miss America 2018, tweeted: "We’re changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era.
The organisation will also be eliminating the traditional evening gown portion of Miss America. Instead, contestants will be encouraged to wear an outfit of their choice that showcases their personal style and gives them confidence.
"We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program 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," Carlson told GMA. "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."