Gretchen Carlson, who chairs the organization's Board of Trustees, announced the unprecedented changes Tuesday on Good Morning America, which include scrapping the event's almost 100-year-old swimsuit contest. The talent portion of the competition will remain.
"We are no longer a pageant", said Gretchen Carlson, the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Miss America Organization.
And Miss America organizers also plan to alter the evening wear segment of the contest, so that contestants can wear whatever they wish.
Miss Texas Margana Wood reacts after advancing from the swimsuit component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City.More news: Hail storm shatters American Airlines plane, prompts emergency landing
Maybe Miss America is taking a page from the bra burners of the 1970s and reclaiming the practice as bikini burning - a very good throwback moment for 2018. So guess what, you don't have to do that anymore.
The Miss America victor in 1993, Leanza Cornett, said at the time that the swimsuits should be scrapped. "We are no longer judging women when they come out in their chosen attire", she explained. Once her contract ended, however, Carlson filed (and eventually settled) a lawsuit against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, and has since been an outspoken advocate against sexual harassment.
In this August 30, 2017, photo, contestants attend a welcoming ceremony for the Miss America competition on the Atlantic City, N.J., boardwalk.
That's what contestants will be judged on now, Carlson added. An email scandal last December in which former Miss America officials denigrated the intelligence, appearance and sex lives of former title winners led to a shake-up at the top, and the group's top three leadership positions are now held by women.More news: Yaya Toure offers services to Liverpool
Carlson said the evening-wear portion of the competition will also be changed to allow women to wear something other than a gown if they want.
Carlson, who won the Miss America competition herself in 1989, says the change is meant to change the very nature of the program - and it will begin all but immediately. But I did recognize the significance of that part of the competition.
Although the competition began as a swimsuit pageant, Carlson said the talent portion of the event has the highest ratings.
Carlson has been a champion of the #MeToo movement combating sexual abuse and harassment by powerful men in business, entertainment and media.More news: Arsenal sign Juventus and Switzerland full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner
'Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement'.