"We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition," Gretchen Carlson said Tuesday while announcing sweeping changes to Miss America ahead of the Sept. 9 event, which will no longer feature a swimsuit or evening gown portion.
The news sent the former beauty pageant straight to the top of Twitter's trending topics as people tried to wrap their heads around this new direction. Outrage poured out, followed by outrage over the outrage as many defended the #MeToo- and #TimesUp-friendly decision to those railing against it.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," the former Fox News host and Miss America chairwoman explained on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives."
Miss America has long come under fire for parading women across the stage in swimsuits and high heels, judging its contestants on their physical appearance for college scholarship opportunities. That scrutiny was intensified in late 2017 when internal emails were leaked that revealed top leaders were making lewd and disparaging comments about former contestants and winners.
The CEO and chairman, who were both men, stepped down in late December, with Carlson taking over the position of Chairperson. She pointed out that the CEO is now women and that the mostly female board supports this new direction. It remains to be seen if the viewing audience will.
When asked about any ratings concerns without the swimsuit category, Carlson said, "Interestingly enough, that's not a highly-rated part of the competition. People actually like the talent part."
The people acting like someone murdered their dog because Miss America is getting rid of the swimsuit portion are exactly why it needs to be gotten rid of. Women are more than their physical appearance. You're just mad you can't gawk at them like meat anymore
R.I.P. Miss America as we know it 😞 As a former Miss TN and someone who competed in the system...I'm ok with the swimsuit part being scrapped, even if it's what challenged me the MOST, but NOT a fan of dropping the Evening Gown portion 👎🏻 so in protest, I throw it back. pic.twitter.com/8GLDdARPLz