Bye Bye Bikini
The days of women being judged by their appearance are over! Well, at least when it comes to Miss America competitions. After almost ten decades of the outdated and degrading swimsuit competition, the organization has finally decided to take a new approach. Not only have they discarded the swimsuit competition, but they have decided to no longer judge women based on what they look like altogether. Instead, they will focus on what the women have to say and how they carry themselves.
When Miss America first started in 1921, it was solely a swimsuit competition. Judges admired the half-naked women walking in heels and would give them a score based on their attractiveness. It was an event created solely to entertain men.
While over the years the competition has become much more than the swimsuit portion, including the very popular talent portion and the interviews, the swimsuit section was never dropped. It was allegedly discussed for years but never acted on until Gretchen Carlson got involved. Not surprisingly, chief executive Sam Haskell and board chairman Lynn Weidner were exposed for inappropriate emails containing vulgar comments about former contestants and their bodies. For these reasons, they stepped down and were replaced by Carlson.
Carlson accused Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman, of sexual harassment in 2016 and since has been very active in the Me Too movement. It would seem that a competition made up of women should have more women on the board that care about their rights, right? Carlson was eager to make a few changes, starting with the swimsuit contest, since she herself was all too familiar with the distastefulness of the swimsuit competition. She had competed and won Miss America in 1989.
Carlson wants a more inclusive Miss America. Her goal is to make the organization feel less like a competition and more like an opportunity for empowerment. She wants to make women feel comfortable and welcome, and encourage women who wouldn’t participate in the competition before to try out.
The swimsuit competition has been cut and replaced with a “live interaction session with the judges, where [the contestant] will highlight her achievements and goals in life,” according to a Washington Post article.
Miss America is only a small part of what is going on in our country, but it is a fantastic milestone and reminder of what is important. We are in the middle of a very important and monumental era for women; kicking down doors and breaking glass ceilings that were not thought possible twenty years ago. We are taking control of our bodies, our lives, and our futures. It’s important, necessary even, to listen to women. Listen to women of color, listen to victims of sexual assault, listen to trans and gay women. Big things are happening, it’s best to pay attention.