In place of the swimsuit competition, Miss Teen USA contestants will now compete in an athletic wear competition, similar to the “Lifestyle and Fitness in Sportswear competition” of their rival pageant, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
The 2016 Miss Teen USA competition is set to be held on July 30 in Las Vegas and will be the first time since the pageant’s 1983 creation that the contestants will not compete in swimwear.
Similarly, the swimsuit portion of the Miss World pageant was eliminated following protests from Muslim groups in 2014.
As a former Miss USA competitor who myself competed in swimwear, I disagreed with the Miss World Organization’s decision and felt that they were sending the wrong message by giving in to the demands of these Muslim groups and eliminating the swimsuit portion of the competition formerly enjoyed by women from countries across the globe for over 60 years.
However, I do not feel the same way about the Miss Universe Organization’s decision.
In fact, I applaud the Miss Universe Organization for choosing to eliminate the swimwear competition at the Miss Teen USA pageants, in which contestants as young as 14 compete for state titles.
The new athletic wear competition creates a much-needed separation between the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants and will be a great new way for the teen competitors to show off their physical fitness.
As the organization’s president Paula Shugart explained in a memo earlier this week, “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.”
Despite continued feminist attacks against the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, the Miss Universe Organization, unlike the Miss World Organization, has refused to cave to discriminatory criticism and unrealistic outside demands and has consistently worked to empower women of all ages.
The organization’s choice to eliminate bikinis for Miss Teen USA contestants does not demonstrate their weakness, but rather their strength and commitment to positively rebranding The Miss Universe Organization and empowering teens across the country.
• Madison Gesiotto is a staff editor for the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. The author’s views are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.
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