Miss America scrapping its swimsuit competition, will no longer judge based on physical appearance

Miss Texas 2017 Margana Wood participates in Swimsuit challenge during the 2018 Miss America Competition Show at Boardwalk Hall Arena on September 10, 2017 in New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

Miss America is scrapping its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance, the organization announced Tuesday.

"We are no longer a pageant," Gretchen Carlson, the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Miss America Organization, said on "GMA." "We are a competition."

In addition to being crowned Miss America in 1989, Carlson has more recently been an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual harassment and a champion of the #MeToo movement. In 2016, she settled a lawsuit against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who stepped down from his role after mounting pressure from additional employees with similar accusations.

The sweeping changes to the competition come after the #MeToo movement, and aim to help the organization be more inclusive and empowering for all women. Carlson also said that she hopes the revamped competition will resonate more with young people.

In place of the swimsuit portion of the competition, the women will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges, according to the organization. The contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job of Miss America during the this part of the competition.


Moreover, the organization is also getting rid of the popular evening gown portion of the night and instead asking contestants to wear attire that makes them feel confident, expresses their personal style and shows how they hope to advance the role of Miss America.

The changes to the competition come after the organization courted controversy earlier this year when internal emails were released from the group's former CEO, Sam Haskell. In the leaked emails,

Haskell, who later resigned, and others were insulting the appearance, intellect and personal lives of former pageant winners, including Carlson.

The 2019 Miss America Competition airs live on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 9 p.m. EST.