2016 has seen a lot of groundbreaking moments in the pageant circuit. Moments ranging from Erin O’Flaherty becoming the first openly gay woman to win a state pageant leading to Miss America to Deshauna Barber, An Army Reserve officer and IT analyst from the District of Columbia, crowned Miss USA 2016. Last month, Miss Teen USA recently announced they are eliminating their swimsuit competition for athleisure. Originally a major staple for pageants, The Miss Universe Organization announced that the pageant is going swimsuit-free and the 52 women will be judged in a brand-new athletic wear competition. The move is consistent with the rebranding of the Miss Universe Organization which is shifting under new owner WME-IMG, the talent agency that purchased it from former owner Donald Trump in September. The sale came after Trump made comments regarding illegal immigrants.
Paula Shugart, Miss Universe President, declares that the change in Miss Teen USA is meant to celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty in different, more constructive ways. She also adds: “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. 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.”
The decision has recently generated positive reviews. Nancy Reed, a former Miss Virginia who won a Miss America Preliminary Swimsuit award in 2003, agrees it’s a “great step in the right direction of women embracing their physical strength, as opposed to their appearance.” This a great step in the right direction in the world of pageantry that beauty, strength, and empowerment are many qualities people are looking for in the next Miss Teen USA. Make sure to check out the 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant on July 30th in Las Vegas.