The Miss America organization is rolling out with a number of changes this year. One of the biggest changes to take place is the removal of the swimsuit portion of the competition.
The change was made in an attempt to be more inclusive to women of all sizes. Speaking on Good Morning America in June, Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. Thats huge.”
So what will happen instead? In place of walking around in a bikini, the women will speak with the judges about their “highest achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.”
What will this mean for the competition? Forbes has questioned how saying goodbye to bikinis will affect ratings and revenue fare for the show. In a June article, the outlet noted how Miss America has seen declining viewership in recent years– last year, only 5.6 million viewers tuned in, which was a 10 degrees from 2016.
Carlson seems to believe that the removal of the swimsuit portion will not affect viewership. She says that the swimsuit contest was “not a highly rated part” to begin with.
Swimsuits are not the only thing people will be saying goodbye to tonight. There will also no longer be an evening gown portion of the pageant. Instead, the women are free to wear and express their own personal styles with their own personal clothing choices.
What this means is that more weight will be placed on the contestants’ talent competition. Speaking to In Style, Cara Mund, the current Miss America, recently said, “The elimination of swimsuit may open the organization up to more people, but it might exclude other people to put so much weight on the talent portion… My hope is that the increase in talent doesn’t discourage people who would say, ‘I don’t have a talent, I can’t do that…’ I do know that although my talent was dancing, during my year as Miss America, I have not danced once, so for that aspect to be worth 50 percent of your score — why compete with something you’re not going to do?”
Be sure to tune in to Miss America 2.0 Sunday at 9pm ET/PT on ABC. The show will span two hours.