Miss America on Tuesday announced that it will no longer judge contestants based on their physical appearance and said it will eliminate its swimsuit competition.
“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,’ so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore,” Carlson announced.
“Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul,” she added.
That’s what contestants will be judged on now, Carlson added. “We are no longer a pageant,” but are a competition.
The organization is scrapping the notorious swimsuit competition after it originally began as a swimsuit pageant 97 years ago.
In lieu of swimsuits, Miss America contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in a live interactive session with the judges.
They will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and understanding of Miss America’s job, GMA reported.
Contestants will also no longer be required to wear an evening gown.
The Miss America organization will instead ask them to express their personal style in clothes they feel confident in.
Carlson was crowned Miss America in 1989 and went on to work in the media, including as a host on Fox News.
She settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in 2016.
Carlson joined the all-female leadership team at the Miss American Organization earlier this year after an email scandal forced top male leadership to step down.
“We are now open, inclusive and transparent and I want to inspire thousands of young people across this country to come and be a part of our program,” Carlson said on Tuesday. “We want you and we want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships.”
The 2019 Miss America competition will be held on Sept. 9.