Miss America Ends Swimsuit Competition

And, done! The #MeToo era has been credited—or blamed, depending on the viewer’s stance—for the decision to nix Miss America’s famous swimsuit competition. 

Gretchen Carlson, the 1989 Miss America winner and current chairwoman of the organization, explained the news on Tuesday's episode of Good Morning America.

  • "We are no longer a pageant," she said. "We are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance."
  • Instead of strutting their stuff, contestants will participate in a "live interactive session with the judges." They will also be required to "demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding" of the Miss America role. 
  • There’s more. Instead of being required to don a classic evening gown, women will be given the option to wear another type of outfit. Because it’s not about looks anymore, Carlson asserts. 
  • "We're no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire—their evening wear, whatever they choose to do," the former Fox News anchor said. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives."
  • All of these changes are taking place against the backdrop of the #MeToo era, which brought scandal to the Miss America Organization’s Board of Directors. In December, the Huffington Post published emails that featured derogatory comments about former contestants’ sex lives, appearances and weights. 
  • Executive chairman and CEO Sam Haskell, chairman Lynn Weidner and president and COO Josh Randle resigned, and Carlson was elected chairman of the board. 
  • Carlson knows her way around sex scandals. In 2016, she settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. He denied the allegations, but was forced out. He has since passed away. 
  • The 2019 Miss America competition airs Sunday, Sept. 9 on ABC.