To bolster the empowerment of young women—and boost its image—brand managers at the Miss Universe organization will no longer require contestants to don swimsuits.
Athletic wear will replace the bikini in the yearly competition.
The Miss Universe organization made the announcement this week. Pageant organizers for years have defended swimsuit competitions as a way to showcase contestants’ athleticism, but for the 15-to-19-year-old girls in the teen competition, it started to feel a bit exploitative.
Miss Universe president, Paula Shugart, said in a memo:
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.