W hen the Miss America Organization announced on Tuesday that its namesake contest is eliminating its swimsuit competition , some fans and former contestants alike welcomed the move as a sign of progress and liberation from a mode of judging women on their looks. In fact, though Miss America started specifically as a swimsuit competition, that format was then considered by some to be liberating for participants. The first such event, held in in Atlantic City, N. This was a moment in history when the sportswear industry was booming amid the rise of middle-class leisure time and tourism, which was in part a product of the establishment of the hour work week. It was considered liberating for women to be free to show off bare limbs in a swimsuit, when even a trip to the beach had long required respectable American women to dress modestly. Cosmetics were not acceptable before this time period; only actresses and prostitutes wore makeup.
Why Miss America finally eliminated the swimsuit competition
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I used to shrug off the feminists who made a big deal about the swimsuit competition in pageants being sexist; I believed my mentors in the pageant world that, like in body-building competitions, swimsuits just allowed contestants to show off their inner confidence and judges to assess our physical fitness. So, hearing the news that Miss America will forgo the swimsuit competition , I shed no tears; they will not be alone in the pageant universe. And both systems somehow still manage to pick the most beautiful and fit women in the world as their winners. The entire pageant world already realized that old school pageantry is dying off, especially since the people who watch at home want a well-rounded, relatable human being as their winner. I came late to the pageant world, partly because I have always considered myself a strong feminist though I hold strong conservative beliefs and I know that any good feminist is supposed to hate pageantry with a passion. But the other reason was, after a difficult upbringing, there was a time that, though I am only five-foot-three, I weighed pounds.
The year-old beauty pageant airing on ABC on Sunday night has dropped its swimsuit competition -- and will stop rating women on their physical appearance, period. The organization is also ditching the evening gown portion of the program, and will instead allow participants to slip into something that makes them feel more confident and comfortable while expressing their personal style. The new rules also come amidst the MeToo era, as women have shared their stories and advocated on behalf of victims of sexual harassment and abuse. But this year's pageant has also been clouded with controversy after the current reigning Miss America, Cara Mund, recently claimed i n an open letter that the Miss America Organization has marginalized her over the past year. Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations.
The year-old entity recently announced plans to nix the swimsuit competition , a move widely viewed as a pivot toward modernization in a post- MeToo world. Following the big announcement, responses were predictably mixed: Some said scrapping the swimsuits is unnecessary, while others argued that change is long overdue. Whether it was determining who sashayed most gracefully in formal wear or who strutted most confidently in a bikini, Miss America—like many other pageants at the national, regional, and local levels—dutifully employed a rigorous system of graded performances to determine who would take home that glittery crown. I had never seen a pageant and had no idea how to walk in heels.