Miss America will be scrapping the swimsuits portion of the event and will be more inclusive to women of all sizes, the contest announced Tuesday.
Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, announced on “Good Morning America” that the event will no longer feature a swimsuit portion, and that Miss America will be a “competition, not a pageant,” Carlson said on the show Tuesday.
Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989, said the changes would hopefully inspire people to be part of the program.
“This is a new beginning and change can sometimes be difficult but I know a lot about change,” she said. “My life has worked in mysterious ways. I never thought I’d be the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization, but here I am and we’re moving it forward and we’re evolving in this cultural revolution.”
Here’s what you need to know about #ByeByeBikini:
1. The Show is Aiming to be More Inclusive to Women of All Shapes and Sizes
The official Miss America Twitter account tweeted a video of a white bikini going up in a puff of smoke with the hashtag #byebyebikini.
“We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge,” Carlson said on Good Morning America.
“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 “Good Morning America.”
2. Miss America is Also Allowing Women To Wear What They Want
The swimsuit portion of the contest isn’t the only part of the competition being significantly changed for the next season. The evening gown competition getting a major overhaul as well.
Carlson said contestants will be able to wear “whatever they choose” next season, and for the years following. Instead of evening gowns, contestants will be asked to wear something that portrays their personal style and makes them feel confident in place of an expensive, flowing gown.
“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 said. “That’s what we’re judging them on now.”
3. The Miss America Pageant is Now Entirely Led by a Trio of Women
In January, Carlson was named the first former winner to serve as the organization’s leader, along with four other former Miss America winners who were also named to the board: Regina Hopper was appointed president and CEO and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp was named as chair of the Board of Trustees.
4. The Pageant Will Now Aim to Demonstrate Contestants’ Passion, Intelligence & Overall Understanding of the Job of Miss America
The contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job of Miss America, according to ABC.
Carlson has recently been an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual harassment and a champion of the #MeToo movement, ABC reports. In 2016, she settled a lawsuit against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who eventually stepped down from his role.
“I could have never expected what would happen when I sued my former employer at Fox News for sexual harassment 22 months ago, but look what has happened,” she said. “Thousands of women have been inspired to know that they can stand up and speak up and their voices will be heard.”
Carlson added, “If I’ve been a beacon of hope to any woman in that process, it has been worth it.”
5. Twitter Users Had Mixed Reactions on the #ByeByeBikini News
Some users expressed concern that removing the swimsuit portion of the competition would lead to less emphasis on the health and fitness portion of the pageant, while others embraced the changes with excitement and are looking forward to seeing the competition emphasis “talent, scholarship, and the inner beauty” of women.
Others disagreed with the change, and think that the pageant is trying too hard to fit in to the “new normal.”
The above comments and thoughts on the changes to Miss America led to another argument between Twitter users, with some claiming that only physically unnattractive, overweight or unhealthy people would be excited about the change. Others disagreed vehemently.