Miss Teen USA Pageant Dumps Swimsuits In Favor of Athletic Wear
In an attempt to keep up with the times, the Miss Teen USA pageant is eliminating the swimsuit portion of it’s competition.
Instead, the 51 contestants (from the 50 states plus D.C.) will be judged in athletic wear, which will replace the swimsuit portion of the competition. The move is a way to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty,” Paula Shugart, Miss Universe president, first told USA Today.
Although the pageant organizers said that the swimsuit portion of the competition was a way to show off the athleticism of the competitors, not to push certain body standards, it has often been viewed as a means to objectify women. Miss Teen USA’s shift to athletic wear serves to highlight the importance of physical fitness for its younger participants, who are only 15-19 years old.
Although the change is now official, Julianne Hough, the host and creative director of the Miss USA competition, hinted at the potential shift regarding the swimsuit aspect of the pageant earlier this month.
The move is consistent with the overall rebranding of the Miss Universe Organization, which comes after Donald Trump sold the Miss Universe Organization to WME/IMG in September. After the presumed GOP nominee made controversial remarks regarding illegal immigrants, NBC and Univision dropped the broadcast of Miss USA, and the sale came after that.
“This new direction for Miss Teen USA is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers,” Katherine Haik, the reigning Miss Teen USA, told USA Today.
Beauty pageants have long been viewed archaic and demeaning to women, but in an era that is growing with gender empowerment, perhaps moving away from swimsuits in beauty pageants will further embrace equality among the sexes.
The 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant will be held in Las Vegas on July 30.
Fortune has reached out to the Miss Universe Organization and will update the story if it responds.