Miss America is cutting swimsuit, evening gown portions: 'We're not going to judge you on your outward appearance'

Meet Miss America 2.0.

Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor and current chair of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced radical new changes during an interview with Good Morning America on Tuesday. 

For the first time since the pageant’s inception in 1921, Miss America contestants will not have to parade down the stage in swimwear.

Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, participated in the swimsuit competition last year but is supporting the decision to end it. (Photo: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” Carlson, herself a former Miss America, revealed. “That’s huge. And that means that we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”

The swimsuit portion will reportedly be replaced by a live segment focusing on contestants’ character and skills.

Carlson, who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement since going public with her accusations of sexual harassment during her time at Fox News, also noted that the evening gown portion will be “revamped,” giving contestants more freedom in their clothing choices.

“We’re no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire, their eveningwear, whatever they choose to do,” she explained. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”

She added that Miss America is “no longer a pageant — we are a competition.”

The decision to scrap swimwear has been lauded by current Miss America Cara Mund, who promoted the new #byebyebikini message.

Though many are cheering the decision, one former Miss Texas, Kendall Morris, said she had “mixed feelings” about the move because she thinks the swimsuit portion taught her “lifelong discipline” to be fit “in a world where obesity rates continue to climb.”

Carlson, meanwhile, has noted that the swimsuit portion has “not highly rated” compared to the talent portion, and shouldn’t affect the show’s popularity. She emphasized that the organization is aiming to be more “inclusive” and “evolve in this cultural revolution,” a reference to #MeToo. She also emphasized the competition’s priority in providing worthy women scholarships to pursue their goals.

“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 said. “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.

“We want more women to know that they are welcome,” she added.

The changes will be implemented in the next Miss America competition, which is scheduled for Sept. 9.

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