Not The Onion: Miss America pageant axes swimsuit competition, focus on ‘brains’

Not The Onion: Miss America pageant axes swimsuit competition, focus on ‘brains’
Miss America contestants (Image: Library of Congress)

When is a beauty pageant not a beauty pageant? When it’s in America in the twenty-first century. USA Today reports that the Miss America competition, which originated in 1921 as a “bathing beauty revue” and has long “judged contestants on their talent performances and interviews in addition to their physical appearance,” will now deep-six the physical appearance part.

What this means is there will be no more swimsuit competition.

Gretchen Carlson, chair of the Miss America Organization Board of Trustees, made the announcement on Tuesday’s “Good Morning America, where she explained that the contest is “no longer a pageant; we are a competition.”

Carlson said the evening-gown portion of the program will also be revamped. “We’re no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire — their evening wear, whatever they choose to do. It’s gonna be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”

But what has come out of their mouths historically has been so gibberish-laden as to have an area of YouTube dedicated exclusively to contestants’ flubs. Consider this answer to a question by Miss Utah in 2013:

“We are now open, inclusive and transparent,” Carlson continues, observing:

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.

Great. Some now the pageant — whoops, contest — will attract ugly stupid women as well as attractive ones.

But at least no one will be objectifying contestants, so it’s a win all around, right?

You gotta love progress.

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Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."


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