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Miss America Scraps Swimsuit Competition in Wake of #MeToo Movement

Miss America is bidding farewell to its swimsuit competition in the wake of the #MeToo movement, ending a 97-year tradition that had been widely criticized as misogynistic.

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“We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition,” Gretchen Carlson, the newly named chair of the Miss America Organization’s Board of Trustees, announced during an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday, June 5. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That’s huge! And that means that we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”

The 2018 Miss America competition at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey on September 10, 2017.
The 2018 Miss America competition at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey on September 10, 2017. Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

The former Fox News host, 51, said the evening gown portion will also be revamped. “We are no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire,” she explained. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives.”

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Carlson was crowned Miss America in 1989. She has become a champion of the #MeToo movement, which began in October after movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and assault by scores of women. Carlson settled a lawsuit against former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in 2016 after she and dozens of other women accused him of sexual harassment, leading to his resignation. Ailes died at age 77 in May 2017.

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“I could have never expected what would happen when I sued my former employer at Fox News for sexual harassment 22 months ago, but look what has happened,” she said on GMA. “Thousands of women have been inspired to know that they can stand up and speak up and their voices will be heard. If I’ve been a beacon of hope to any woman in that process, it has been worth it.”

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Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell resigned in December after leaked internal emails revealed that he and other executives made sexist and misogynistic comments about the competition’s former winners, including Carlson.

Miss America 2019 airs live on ABC on Sunday, September 9, at 9 p.m. ET.

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