Miss Teen USA ditches swimsuits

Swimsuits at the Miss Teen USA pageant are officially dead in the water.

The organization is ending the swimsuit portion of the beauty pageant and replacing it with an athletic wear competition, a spokesperson confirmed to CNN.

The news was first reported by USA Today.

It’s a nod to a more modern approach in an era where there are gender empowerment videos and commercial campaigns including Always’ #LikeAGirl aimed at highlighting equality among the sexes.

“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 wrote in a memo to the pageant’s state directors. “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.”

Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe are all owned by WME/IMG after Donald Trump sold the organization following his remarks about Mexicans caused a falling out with NBC Universal and Univision.

Beauty pageants have long been the target of ire and viewed as both archaic and demeaning to women.

In a column written last year for The Guardian writer Jessica Valenti said, “The notion that beauty pageants are anything more than an opportunity to ogle gorgeous, scantily-clad women and pit them against each has long been debunked.”

“Despite long-standing claims that pageants like Miss America are a major source of scholarships for young women, the truth is that they offer only a fraction of the money that they claim they do,” Valenti wrote. “Women who participate are also much more likely to spend money than make money on the endeavor — the cost of dresses, hair and makeup, entrance fees and more are the responsibility of the contestants alone.”
The Miss World pageant ended its swimsuit competition in 2014.

CNNMoney (New York) First published June 29, 2016: 11:44 AM ET

The Miss Teen USA competition announced on Wednesday that its young contestants will no longer have to wear swimsuits, as organizers issued a frank statement tacitly acknowledging that the tradition is seen as exploitative – and mentioned a word rarely promoted around the pageant circuit: feminism.

The annual American beauty contest for 15- to 19-year-olds, to be held next in Las Vegas on 30 July, will substitute “athletic wear” for the controversial swimwear round at this year’s event.

In an apparent U-turn within the pageant world, which has long garnered bitter criticism for objectifying girls and women, it was announced that the Miss Teen USA event is making an “important cultural shift”.

Miss Teen USA is part of the Miss Universe organization that also runs the Miss USA adult pageant. The organization was owned by Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump until he sold it last year, soon after buying out partner NBC when the media company fell out with him over his early tirade against Mexicans during the initial phase of the presidential race.

A Miss Universe statement on Wednesday announced that the Miss Teen USA contest “just got a modern update”.

It pointed out that the “swimsuit portion” had always been a “staple” of such competitions.

Then it added: “But in a society that increasingly prioritizes feminism and equality, watching women parade across a stage in bikinis can feel outdated.”

Miss Universe defended its pageant organizers, saying they had long intended the swimsuit part of the contest to be about showing off athleticism.

“But Miss Teen USA’s transition to athletic wear reads as less exploitative and more focused on the importance of physical fitness,” the statement continued.

Miss Universe president Paula Shugart added in a separate statement about the decision, which was revealed in USA Today, that the shift is meant to celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty in different, “more constructive” ways.

“This decision reflects an important cultural shift we’re all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives … and … will help all of Miss Teen USA’s fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are,” she said.

The organization did not define what it meant by athletic wear. A picture accompanying the statement announcing the decision showed a picture of a woman from the back standing in triumph in a mountainous countryside, wearing sneakers, leggings and a sporty bra top.

Commenters in the USA Today article mentioned “active wear” and the word “athleisure”, the trend of crossover fashion between sport and casual wear.

A request for comment from the Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA organization was not returned.

The Miss Universe competition has always been considered more racy than the older Miss America contest it arose to compete against after a row in the early 50s over – swimsuits.

But on Wednesday, Miss USA host Julianne Hough hinted that there could now also be a review of the use of swimsuits in the adult competition, depending on how the Miss Teen USA swimsuit ban is received.

Reaction on social media about the Miss Teen USA shift ranged from comments that the only “modern decision” would be to discontinue pageants altogether to sneers and anger, including conservative controversy-magnet Milo Yiannopoulos’s snide, anti-Islamic tweet that the contest was going “sharia compliant”, which prompted a flood of other sarcastic comments.

When Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was named Miss Universe on Sunday, her crowning signified a milestone: the first year that four of the major beauty pageants had simultaneously awarded the top prize to a black woman.

Pageants have long been criticized for their antiquated beauty standards and, in many cases, outright racism or gender stereotyping. Last year, the Miss America Organization announced it would scrap both the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the competition. And while black women have been winners in the past — notably Vanessa Williams, who in 1984 was the first black woman to be named Miss America — they have never been as successful as this year.

Supporters of the women — Ms. Tunzi, Cheslie Kryst (this year’s Miss USA), Kaliegh Garris (Miss Teen USA) and Nia Franklin (Miss America) — say the recognition sends a powerful message that today’s beauty standards are evolving beyond Barbie-lite, or an era when contestants were prized solely for smooth hair, light skin color and thin lips.

“Finally the universe is giving value to black skin,” read an Instagram post from Leila Lopes, a former Miss Angola who was crowned Miss Universe in 2011. Oprah also praised Ms. Tunzi for her leadership. But perhaps the new Miss Universe put it best in her closing address on Sunday night.

Chelsie Kryst, Miss North Carolina USA 2019, is crowned Miss USA. (HO/The Miss Universe Organization) Launch Gallery 61 Photos

The new Miss USA for 2019 was named Wednesday night at the conclusion of the two-hour competition, broadcast live on FOX from the the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino’s Grand Theatre, located in Reno Tahoe.

Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst, 27, was crowned the new Miss USA 2019 after Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne was named second runner-up and Miss New Mexico Alejandra Gonzalez was named first runner-up,

Kryst is a full-time attorney with a law degree and an MBA from Wake Forest University. She is a civil litigation attorney who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates.

She wowed the judges with her answer to the Final Word, which required the three finalists to describe their generation.

Her winning answer: “I would say that my generation is innovative. I am standing here in Nevada, in the state that has the first majority female legislature in the entire country. Mine is the first generation to have that forward-looking mindset that has inclusivity, diversity and strength and empowered women. I am looking forward to continuing progress with my generation.”

In addition, Kryst had an impressive video package that made it easy for her to gain entry into the Top 10.

In it she said, “I was in a law school competition when a judge told me to wear a skirt next time instead of pants because that is what the male judges prefer to see. I wanted feedback on my legal argument like the men in the competition but instead we talked about my pants. Since then, I’ve built a blog for women’s work wear fashion, volunteered for Dress for Success, earned my MBA, and built a career as an attorney because glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants.”

Originally Posted May 1, 2019: Nick and Vanessa Lachey return for the second year as hosts of the 2019 MISS USA® competition taking place live from the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino’s Grand Theatre, located in Reno Tahoe, with contestants from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia competing for the title.

In addition to hosting, Nick will perform, as will The Masked Singer winner T-Pain.

Miss USA 2018 Sarah Rose Summers will be on hand to crown her successor at the end of the two-hour TV event.

The winner of Miss USA will then represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant later this year.

The 2019 Miss USA airs live on Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. ET live/PT tape-delayed on FOX.

Launch Gallery

Paula Shugart, the president of the Miss Universe Organization, said in a letter to state directors this week that the pageant was “committed to continuing to evolve in ways that celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty for years to come.”

“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 wrote.

“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.”

Julianne Hough, a host of Miss USA 2016, told USA Today that she understood the resistance to the swimsuit portion of the pageant, but defended the segment as being similar to going to the beach.

“There is the whole thing of being confident in the fact you worked hard to get that body and you go to the gym and you eat healthy and do certain things,” she said. But, she added, “In the next few years, we may grow from that.”

The Miss World pageant ended its swimsuit competition in 2014.

“It’s not just a beauty contest; it’s ‘beauty with a purpose,’ ” Chris Wilmer, the national director of Miss World America and Miss United States, told ABC News. “There didn’t seem to be a purpose to have the swimsuit.”

Mr. Trump sold the Miss Universe organization to WME-IMG in September after two television partners dropped the competition in response to his comments about illegal immigrants.

Beauty redefined? Miss Teen USA says goodbye to swimsuits in heels

Swimwear will no longer be part of the competition at the Miss Teen USA beauty pageant.

Organizers announced that they would drop the long-controversial swimsuit part of the competition in favor of an athletic leisurewear segment. They are the second major American pageant to do so – Miss World dropped the category, which classically involves contestants doing a stage walk in bikinis and heels, two years ago.

“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,” wrote Miss Universe president Paula Shugart in a memo, reports USA Today. Miss Teen USA competition is owned by the Miss Universe Organization. “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 is a break with the organization’s beauty pageant lineage: The Miss Universe website traces its pageant’s roots to a “local ‘bathing beauty’ ” competition in Long Beach, Calif. The history of beauty pageants in the United States is closely linked to beach resorts – a forerunner of the modern pageants was held in 1880 Rehoboth Beach, Del., and in the early 20th century, oceanside Atlantic City’s Miss America pageant became entertainment for the newly vacationing working class.

But the decision may be one sign that the pageant is aiming to evolve its concept of beauty alongside society’s.

An evolution of the pageant has already been happening: in recent decades pageants have tried transitioning away from beauty competitions to be considered scholarship competitions. Miss America has strongly emphasized this aspect of its competition for both women and teens, while a “Pageant Center” website says “scholarship pageants are one of the most effective ways for teens and young women to afford a college education.”

Miss Universe puts less emphasis on the idea of scholarship, but bill their crowned women as “confidently beautiful,” saying that with that confidence comes the “power to make real change.”

And women in the pageants uphold this standard.

Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall, who passed away in 2011, became an advocate for health and questioning breast augmentation in her home country. Other contestants, like Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan lobbies on Capitol Hill for ending childhood prostitution in the US, USA Today reports.

Recent contestants are also challenging stereotypes about who makes a beauty pageant contestant: In the Miss America pageant, Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty will compete as the competition’s first openly gay contestant this year, and the 2016 Miss USA Deshauna Barber of the District of Columbia is an Army officer.

While the pageant has been evolving, some critics have rebuffed the efforts to modernize and change the focus of the beauty pageant, saying the changes are superficial.

“Although pageant officials and contestants emphasize scholarships, talents and platform issues and repackage the swimsuit competition as the ‘lifestyle and fitness’ category, their rhetoric rings hollow,” Blain Roberts, a historian, wrote in 2013 in a New York Times opinion piece. Ms. Roberts feels that the modern pageants continues to “sexualize bodies and encourage conformity to ‘ludicrous’ beauty standards.”

Former Miss Virginia Nancy Redd, of the Miss America competition, supports the swimwear to athletic wear change as a new emphasis on strength and fitness over appearance. But she also points to the fact that the switch may have some economic motivations.

“Teens are spending .1 percent of their life in a bathing suit and 50 percent in athleisure. The pageant is following the trend of who can sponsor them,” she told USA Today.

However, Miss Teen USA contestants seem to agree that athletic wear is more in tune with their lives.

“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,” says Katherine Haik, the reigning Miss Teen USA, reports USA Today.

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“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.”

While Miss Teen USA will no longer have the swimsuit portion, Miss USA and Miss Universe, for adult women, will continue to include that competition. The Miss Universe Organization, formerly owned by Donald Trump, was sold to WME-IMG talent agency in September, and runs all three competitions.

Miss Teen USA Swaps Swimsuits for Athletic Wear

Bikinis and beauty pageants have been inseparable pretty much since the invention of the bikini (or pageants for that matter), but women have been making a splash in places that have nothing to do with swimsuits and heels for years. Finally, one famous competition is trying to change the dated idea that young women should be judged on how they look in a bathing suit. Miss Teen USA just announced they are switching out swimwear for athletic wear for that part of the competition.

“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 wrote in a memo. “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.”

Younger girls and women are the biggest viewers of the Miss Teen USA pageant and decades of research has shown they are deeply affected by idealized or unrealistic images of the female body (and Body Image Issues Start Way Younger Than We Thought). But today’s viewers are a little savvier than previous generations, and according to a study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, young women are most negatively affected when they see a beautiful body not in a marketing setting (like an in-your-face ad of a model) but in a more subtle way that makes the idealistic beauty standard seem like part of “normal” life. So while a beauty pageant isn’t necessarily the norm for the average young woman, these girl-next-door contestants are probably still more relatable than a high-fashion model, which makes girls more likely to see their bodies as realistic.

Miss Teen USA’s decision is a step in the right direction, but it still has a long way to go. Kudos to them for allowing girls to showcase their athleisure game, but unless the girls also get to perform their athletic skill, then they are still getting ranked for what they look like and not for what they can do. In addition, it risks replacing one “ideal” for another. Will young viewers now think they have to have biceps and a tight booty to be beautiful?

Perhaps this decision will have a ripple effect throughout the system, influencing other pageants to rethink their swimsuit competitions. There’s no official word yet on whether Miss USA and Miss Universe will follow their little sister’s lead, but in the meantime, one person who is thrilled with the change is the current Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik. “I have been an athlete my entire life,” she said to USA Today. “As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear. 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.”

Miss Teen USA says bye-bye to swimsuits

Fox411: Some pageant people are not happy with the changes

WME/IMG’s first real chance at putting its fingerprints all over the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants is rubbing some people the wrong way.

Some local officials in the Miss Teen USA competition are upset that the talent agency is putting less emphasis on sex appeal and a greater focus in fitness.

Among its first moves as the new owner, WME/IMG eliminated the swimsuit portion of the Miss Teen USA contest — which features competitors ages 14 to 19 — in August, replacing it with an activewear segment to highlight the teens’ fitness over sex appeal.

“The girls are very proud of their bodies and work hard to get that way,” said Paula Miles, a state director who oversees the pageants in Louisiana, Alabama and the Carolinas.

“We are in the South and have beaches everywhere,” said Miles, reacting to WME/IMG’s decision to nix the swimsuit competition and replace it with contestants wearing tank tops, bicycle shorts, leggings, sneakers and the like — to show off their athleticism.

While upset about the change, Miles knows that going forward “we have to the activewear.”

For the Miss Universe pageant, which airs Jan. 29, the swimsuit competition will remain — but WME/IMG will have contestants walk out on stage in groups of four rather than one by one.

Michael Antinoro, the talent agency’s head of production and programming, thinks the changes are long overdue.

The beauty pageant business is about much more than “women walking on the stage in swimsuits and gowns and not messing up a question,” said Antinoro, who oversees the Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.

The agency owned Miss Universe for just four month when last year’s pageant was held — not enough time to make major changes.

For this year’s pageant, to be broadcast by Fox, IMG’s changes will be clear.

The agency bought the pageants from President-elect Donald Trump in September 2015 after the New York billionaire got into hot water during the presidential campaign by denigrating some Mexican immigrants.

Broadcast-rights owner Univision dumped the shows, and NBCUniversal — which owned 51 percent of Miss Universe — looked to sell.

The snit resulted in a lawsuit. It was settled 11 months ago with Trump gaining full ownership.

He then flipped it to IMG for a reported $22 million.

Also, WME/IMG is looking to bring in more fashion designers.

“Anecdotally speaking, beauty pageants are not politically forward-thinking,” Antinoro said, adding that “we want to empower women to get away from ‘you look like a beauty queen.’”

The three-hour broadcast will also include more stories and video clips about the individual contestants.

Over the past year, producers traveled to 40 countries, filming about half of the 87 contestants in their daily lives.

Contestants will be asked more topical, weightier questions on subjects like gun control and politics.

One thing from 2016 will remain the same: Steve Harvey will be the host. Last year, Harvey created some instant viral video by announcing the wrong winner — before quickly correcting himself.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post.

Miss Teen USA‘s first activewear competition EVER totally proved that yes, strong is beautiful — and we are definitely fans. Each contestant rocked leggings or shorts, sports bras, and sparkly black sneakers. Even cuter, each girl had her state name and flower printed on her outfit — SUCH a cool touch!

Our favorite activewear look was definitely worn by Miss Alabama, Erin Snow. The blonde sported a sunset-inspired yoga capris and sports bra outfit that both stood out and totally complimented her petite frame. And while most of the contestants stuck with simple black ensembles, Erin stepped it up a notch and went for a look that was bright and fun!

Miss Teen USA: Meet The 2016 Contestants

Similar to Erin, Miss California, Athenna Crosby, chose a unique outfit that had bursts of a purple and blue sunset and was covered in palm trees — super appropriate considering her state. And there’s no doubt Athenna look incredible. Talk about a flattering workout look!

Miss Illinois, Olivia Pura, and Miss Iowa, Hannah Bookhaus, went for the more typical activewear look but they still looked incredibly gorgeous in their sports bras and spandex! We love that while Olivia went for a shorts look, Hannah switched it up and opted for long leggings.

But above all, we love what this competition stood for — instead of parading in bikinis, these teens showed their athletic side and stressed how important it is to take care of your body — what an inspiring message! There was even a video before the segment began that showed all 51 contestants working out together and talking about healthy living. Now THAT’S what we like to see!

Miss Texas, Karlie Hay, ended up winning the entire competition — congrats, Karlie!

Which activewear look was your favorite, HollywoodLifers? Are you happy the competition nixed swimwear for these athletic ensembles?

Miss teen USA swimsuit

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