One of the last places to see high-cut bikini bottoms modeled with nude heels is ending that tradition. This year, don’t expect to see girls in the Miss Teen USA competition strutting in bikinis anymore. In an attempt to modernize the pageant and shake off certain stigmas, the swimsuit portion of the pageant is getting an athleisure-inspired update.
Instead of swimsuits, the 51 15-to-19-year-olds competing will strut the stage in an athletic wear. Although pageant organizers claimed the swimsuit round was meant to show off the contestants’ athleticism, many felt that the skimpy suits didn’t quite communicate that message clearly.
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“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,” Miss Universe president Paula Shugart told USA Today. “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.”
Katherine Haik, the reigning Miss Teen USA, approves of the change. “This new direction for Miss Teen USA is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers,” she said.
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She added: “I have been an athlete my entire life. As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear.”
This isn’t the first time a major beauty pageant kicked the two-piece tradition to the curb. In 2014, the Miss World pageant replaced its swimsuit portion with a beachwear round to make it “more of a fashion competition than a bikini show.”
The changes to swimsuit rounds, along with exciting new contestants including Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty competing as Miss America’s first openly gay contestant and Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber, an army officer crowned the 2016 Miss USA, marks the modern changes pageants are making to stay relevant.
Check out the new athleticwear round during this year’s Miss Teen USA pageant on July 30.
What do you think of eliminating the swimsuit round? Let us know below!
— Kaitlyn Frey