Balancing Act: Is Miss America’s Swimsuit Competition On The Way Out? (And Do We Care?)

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens takes a look at what changes could be on the way for the Miss America Pageant. One of Steven’s suggestions is quite interesting, she says, “Why not lift the ban on married and/or mothering Miss Americas? Before 1999, contestants had to swear they’d never been married or pregnant. Starting with the 2000 pageant, contestants have had to swear they’re not currently married, pregnant or the adoptive or biological parent of a child.”

Chicago Tribune

Two former pageant contestants touched Miss America’s third rail, the swimsuit competition, on “Good Morning America” recently, hinting at what, I hope, is the start of a bold, honest discussion about keeping the beauty behemoth relevant.

“Good Morning America” host Amy Robach, runner-up for Miss Georgia in 1995, was interviewing Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989.

“Is the idea of a successful young woman parading around in a swimsuit onstage to be judged by her physical appearance, which you and I both subjected ourselves to, is that outdated?” Robach asked Carlson.

“Amy, I have so many great ideas for this organization,” answered Carlson, who was named chairwoman of Miss America’s board of directors this week after three executives resigned in the wake of vulgar, derogatory emails about former winners that were made public. (Carlson is also the former Fox News anchor who filed the sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox Chairman Roger Ailes that ultimately led to his departure.)

“Please stay tuned,” Carlson said. “Because I plan to make this organization 100 percent about empowering women.”

“Changes are coming,” Robach replied.

“Changes are coming,” Carlson agreed.

“Big changes,” Robach prodded.

“Potentially big changes,” Carlson answered.

If the swimsuit competition goes the way of the dinosaurs, I won’t shed any tears. But I have to say, I find the singular focus on that portion of the competition to be a little curious.

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