Miss Teen USA beauty pageant scraps swimsuit competition to ‘celebrate women’s strength and confidence’

From swimwear to athletic wear


Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 29 June 2016 20:49 BST
The Miss Teen USA live swimsuit competition last year
The Miss Teen USA live swimsuit competition last year (YouTube)

Teenagers competing in a national beauty pageant will no longer be required to parade before the judges in bikinis, Miss Teen USA has confirmed.

The organisers of the event said the 51 women - from 50 states plus DC - will be judged by a new athletic wear competition to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty”, said Miss Universe president Paula Shugart.

“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,” she said in a statement. “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.”

Swimsuits were worn by the young women to illustrate their “athleticism”, according to the organizers, but the move to athletic wear just one month before the next annual competition is seen as more appropriate and less exploitative for women aged between 15 and 19.

“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,” said current Miss Teen USA, 15-year-old Katherine Haik, as reported by USA Today.

“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."

Pageants have made attempts to break their conventional mould, yet many still retain the traditional swimsuit competition.

2016 is the first year to feature an openly gay contestant, Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty.

Miss District of Colombia Deshauna Barber, a black woman army officer, was crowned 2016’s Miss USA.

The next teen beauty pageant will be held on 30 July in Las Vegas.

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