On June 5th, 2018, Miss America CEO Gretchen Carlson spoke on behalf of the Miss America Organization announcing that the Miss America Organization would no longer be a pageant but is moving forward as a competition. "We are no longer a pageant," Gretchen Carlson, the first former Miss America to be named chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, said on "GMA." "We are a competition." This caused an uproar of emotions from the pageant community.
Miss America began in 1921 in Atlantic City as a bathing suit competition aimed to attract tourists and extend the summer season. Soon enough the talent, evening gown, and interview portions of the competition were added to create the Miss America we know and love today. In Gretchen Carlson's announcement, she revealed that there would no longer be a swimsuit or evening gown competition. SAY WHAT!? Miss America would no longer have its traditional, iconic swimsuit competition. The reason for this is because the Miss America Organization is meant to empower women, give them a voice and the job of Miss America does not require you to be in a swimsuit.
The next big change came when the organization announced it would no longer have an evening gown portion of the competition. If you were not looking forward to the swimsuit competition then you were looking forward to seeing the fabulous gowns that the contestants chose to showcase their personal style on the Miss America stage. The original announcement that said goodbye to evening gown has now been edited and the 2019 Miss America competition will now include evening gown as a "Red Carpet Style" and will still be the contestants choice.
Having been a contestant in this organization since 2011 I have my own thoughts about the elimination of the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition. The announcement came the morning I was leaving to compete in the 90th Anniversary Miss Connecticut Pageant (yes, you read that correctly, a pageant not a competition). Knowing this would be the last time I would ever compete in a swimsuit was so bittersweet. I had dreamed of going to Miss America and walking down the runway at Boardwalk Hall in a swimsuit. I hope that one day we reinstate the tradition of the swimsuit competition at Miss America.
Evening gown was always the portion of the pageant that I looked forward to. After all of the challenging parts like interview and talent are over you get to show the audience and the judges a glimpse at your personal style in a beautiful evening gown. I mean, who doesn't love getting dressed up? This portion of the competition allows each contestant to show who they truly are and exhibit a hell of a lot of personal confidence. I for one am so happy that the organization decided to keep this portion of the pageant.
New for Miss America 2019 will be the "Final Conversation". This portion will be done by the top five remaining competitors. Each girl will talk about their career ambitions, platform, year of service as well as the attributes that make her the best person for the job of Miss America, among many other things. This piece will take the place of the usual short onstage question that the top five contestants would be asked.
I love that they included this as part of the competition and I think that this is a piece that was needed a long time ago. So often did I wish I had more opportunities to tell the audience about my platform, the community service I had done and about myself and why I wanted to be a state titleholder. This portion of the competition will allow for that and I am excited to see how this plays out in September.
The talent portion of the competition and my personal favorite will remain the same except for the percentage of the score. Talent, which was 35% of the score, is now a whopping 50% of the score. This has spiked some controversy because many Miss Americas are not asked to perform their talents during their year of service (aside from singers who sing the National Anthem but even that is not all that often).
Talent is one of my favorite portions of the competition. Miss America wouldn't be Miss America without this portion but bumping it to 50% is something I am not a fan of. There are girls all across the country who feel that they "aren't talented enough" to compete and having talent be 50% of your score will not be an attractive quality to those girls. The Miss America Organization should feel achievable to every single girl in America and this is not going to feel achievable for some.
The changes with Miss America have some people doubting the organization and many girls have voiced that they no longer want to participate because of the spiral it has taken in just a few weeks. My hope for the organization is that it truly continues to empower women, guide women to higher education, and make women feel as though anything, including competing in a pageant, is achievable.
Things with Miss America are changing on a daily basis but this should keep you fairly informed until the competition in September. Do you have a state you are pulling for??