The Miss America competition is going to look a little different come September.
That’s because new chairwoman of the organization and former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson announced last week that the competition will not longer include its long-held swimsuit portion, according to Allure.
“We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” Carlson said in her Good Morning America announcement. “That means that we will no longer have a swimsuit competition and that is official.”
But that’s not the only change coming to the competition; Allure reports that its evening gown portion will no longer focus on what the contestants are wearing, but instead will gauge “what comes out of their mouth,” according to Carlson.
As if these changes aren’t major enough, there may still be more on the horizon. When Carlson was asked during her initial announcement whether the new and improved competition will include a more diverse size range, she answered in a positive way.
“We are interested in what makes you you,” she said, according to Allure. “At the end of the day, we hand out scholarships to these women. We want more women to know that they are welcome in this organization.”
Miss America has just made history, but not in the form of a contestant or winner.
According to CNN, the organization has just appointed an all-female leadership for the first time in its history. Led by all former pageant winners, CNN reports that Miss America has named Regina Hopper as president and CEO, while “Marjorie Vincent-Tripp was named as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Foundation.”
Hopper and Vincent-Tripp join former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson who, in December, was named the chairman of the Miss America Organization’s Board of Trustees. Taking over for leaders who resigned in 2017 over disparaging emails, CNN says the organization hopes the their new leadership team will usher in a new era:
“The induction of this all female leadership team signals forthcoming transformational changes to the entire organization and program, ushering in a new era of progressiveness, inclusiveness and empowerment,” the organization said in a statement.
Amen to that!
Sometimes, speaking up or putting yourself out there can be extremely difficult. It can take all the confidence and bravery you can muster to finally speak your mind, stand up for yourself or go out on a limb in pursuit of your dreams. But, when you have models of those who have gone before us — those who have busted down doors or pointed out double standards — it can make it a little bit easier for the rest of us who are trying to find our way.
This week, I’ve chosen two pieces that I think are very important to read, albeit for different reasons. One teaches us to speak up in the midst of the most difficult or trying circumstances, while the other offers insight on the roadblocks women may face when striving for success. Both, however, will leave you feeling stronger and inspired. Here are my two favorite online reads for this week:
Gretchen Carlson: What Speaking Up Against Sexual Harassment Did for Me—and Why I Encourage Other Women to Do the Same
(Trigger warning) The former Fox News host reveals details the sexual assaults she faced as a Miss America candidate and later sexual harassment she faced working her way up the media industry. Her experiences — and the countless others she heard from women with similar stories — then inspired her to write Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Back Your Power, due out on Oct. 17. Read her essay on InStyle here.
Jewel Eliese: How to Get Published: Be Male?
Writer Jewel Eliese breaks down the barriers to success in the world of publishing, which she concludes may be a function of gender, as males — and even females writing under male pseudonyms — have an easier time getting manuscript requests and even published. However, Eliese argues that we, as a society, can change things if we remove gender and its adjoining stereotypes from the equation and focus on the quality of the storytelling, not the name signed at the bottom of a query letter. Read her full article here.
While these pieces certainly point out the many trappings that can go along with gender, they should serve as a source of inspiration, letting us all know that change is possible if we have the courage to pursue it.