Swimsuits, out. Athletic wear, in.
The Miss Teen USA competition will no longer feature a swimsuit event – a move that pageant organisers say celebrates “women’s strength, confidence and beauty”.
The 15- to 19-year-old contestants won’t be judged in swimsuits. Instead, they will compete in a new athletic wear event, a spokeswoman confirmed.
The change, first reported by USA Today, will be in place for this year’s competition, held July 30 in Las Vegas.
“This decision reflects an important cultural shift we’re all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives and encourage those in their communities to do the same,” Paula Shugart, president of the parent Miss Universe Organization, wrote in a letter to state directors. “Our hope is that this decision will help all of Miss Teen USA’s fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are.”
Reigning Miss Teen USA Katherine Haik said in a statement that this new direction “is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers.”
“I have been an athlete my entire life,” she said. “As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear.”
The swimsuit competition has come under increased scrutiny as an objectifying spectacle in recent years. Organisers of major pageants — including Shugart, the Miss Universe Organisation president – have said they are intended to display fitness, fashion and confidence, not to push certain body standards.
(Article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald)