A big change for the Miss. America pageant was announced Tuesday morning. Contestants will no longer be walking across the stage in swimwear.
Miss America board chair Gretchen Carlson says the event will no longer be focusing on physical appearance.
“Miss. America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment,” said Carlson.
So what do local competitors think about it? Grace Brown will be the youngest woman in the Miss Ohio pageant being held next week in Mansfield.
“My original thought was okay haha you know it was like such a surprise to hear that such a big aspect of our competition is being taken away,” said Brown.
This is the first year Grace is competing in Miss Ohio, following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mom won Miss Ohio in 1991, and she loved the swimsuit portion.
Brown says times are changing and she realizes it’s a good thing to remove swimsuits from the competition even though she’s worked hard for it.
“It’s going to make the program more all-inclusive and in this time in our day that we are living in right now we are talking about the Me Too movement and sexual harassment talking about equality for women and then we’re doing a completely different thing on national television making women walk in swimsuits,” said Brown. “It’s really weird all of the state titleholders this year will be winning with swimsuit and then will not be competing with swimsuit at Miss America. So, this is going to be a really interesting transition year where all the girls are swimsuit ready but no ones wearing their swimsuits.”
Miss Ohio 2016 Alice Magoto was the lifestyle and fitness preliminary swimsuit winner in Miss America 2017. She was shocked to hear the news, saying the swimsuit competition brought her more confidence.
“The swimsuit competition is very close to my heart and I worked very hard to take home that prize but I also believe Miss America needed rebranding and that’s obviously what they’re doing so I’m really excited for the modernization and rebranding but I am disappointed to see the swimsuit competition go,” said Magoto.
Bill Alverson is a well-known pageant coach. He has coached hundreds of girls over the last 15 years. He has children and thinks it’s a good thing their removing swimwear.
“For my daughters, it’s important that they grow up and to where they have an opinion that people hear and respect and look at them on their capabilities not just their gender and so this might really help get to that point and I say be positive but people don’t like change and so that means we have to learn something new.” said Alverson.
Steven Oliveri is the Executive Director and President of Miss Ohio Scholarship Program and thinks this is a good step.
“Groundbreaking change for the Miss America organization probably since it’s inception so they are opening the program to more women that may have been a little bit shy because of the swimsuit competition,” said Oliveri.
“I was very aware that they were making changes to the Miss America organization and I had a feeling that they definitely were going to eliminate swimsuit competition. I wasn’t told that information before the news broadcast this morning but Gretchen Carlson, our new chairwoman of Miss America has indicated that she was going to make some very significant changes. So, I truthfully was not that surprised when I heard the swimsuit competition was eliminated from the Miss America competition.” said Miss Ohio 2017 Sarah Clapper.
The change does not affect state pageants this year. Next week competitors at Miss. Ohio will wear swimwear. However, the new rule will take effect nationally at Miss America this September.