Update: The infamous bikini’s replacement has been revealed! USA Today reported on Friday that during the July 30 broadcast, Miss Teen USA contestants will be wearing custom-made sports bras and leggings from the brand Tapout, made in collaboration with designer Goldsheep. There will be eight regional variations for the main competition and finalists will get custom looks featuring their home states. The network tweeted out a sampling of the new looks.
This article was originally published on June 29. It's about time for beauty pageants to retire the antiquated (and sexist) swimsuit competition portion, and Miss Teen USA is leading the charge by doing away with it. In lieu of donning bikinis, the contestants will instead compete in "athletic wear," according to USA Today.
The switch, which will take place at the annual pageant on July 30, aims to more aptly showcase the 15- to 19-year-old contestants' athleticism. (That was supposedly the swimsuit component's intended purpose, believe it or not.) Given the ubiquity of all things athleisure over the past few years, it's certainly a zeitgeist-y swap. It'll also, hopefully, allow for more covered-up outfits, should contestants desire. But regardless of what sorts of Lycra-enhanced, sweat-ready outfits the pageant's 51 entrants (one per state, plus Washington, D.C.) do end up choosing, it's a progressive upgrade to the typical parade of bikinis and stilettos. "This new direction for Miss Teen USA is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers," Katherine Haik, last year's Miss Teen USA, told USA Today about the pageant's new category. The pageant circuit has gotten slightly more progressive, as USA Today points out, noting that Miss America's first-ever openly gay contestant competed last week, and the fact that 2016's Miss USA is an Army officer. Earlier this month, Miss USA's 2016 onstage host, Julianne Hough, and its backstage host, Ashley Graham, weighed in on the controversial swimsuit portion of pageantry. Miss USA, which is owned by Miss Universe, the same parent organization as Miss Teen USA, will indeed have a swimwear component per usual, but Hough hinted at possible changes in the next few years. It's great that the event that involves, and perhaps targets, a younger, more impressionable teen demographic is making progress first. Let's hope the rest of the pageants follow suit sooner rather than later.