Since the first Miss America in 1921, the pageant has gone through its fair share of criticism and controversy but rarely any significant changes. After leaked internal emails revealed a pattern of slut-shaming and fat-shaming winners, however — plus the subsequent mass exodus of senior employees — the Miss America Organization has decided to pivot.
When the contestants return to the stage this year, they will be competing in what has been dubbed „Miss America 2.0“ thanks to both subtle and dramatic adjustments to the show. Here are all the changes you’ll see on Sunday.
Miss America is no longer a „pageant,“ but rather a „competition.“
„We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition,“ Gretchen Carlson, the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, said on ABC’s „Good Morning America“ in June.
Additionally, the contestants are now officially referred to as „candidates.“
There’s no more swimsuit competition.
„We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge,“ Carlson declared in June. „And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.“
Moving forward, Miss America will replace the swimsuit portion with a live interactive session with the judges, Carlson added during her appearance on „GMA.“
In a statement provided to INSIDER, a representative for Miss America said contestants will be asked to „highlight [their] achievements and goals in life“ and describe „how [they] will use [their] talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America“ during this new portion of the competition.
The evening gown competition will have a looser dress code.
Although Carlson originally claimed that Miss America would scrap the evening gown portion all together — in favor of „attire that makes [contestants] feel confident and expresses their personal style,“ as reported by „GMA“ — it appears there will still be a dress code.
Cosmo reports that the evening wear competition theme this year is „red carpet glamour.“
According to a representative for Miss America, the new evening gown competition will give contestants „the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiative.“
Speaking to INSIDER, Regina Hopper, the President and CEO of Miss America, said that while the evening gown portion will still enable contestants to wear their attire of choice, it will not judge them based on their appearance.
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Source: Business insider