News & Opinion | July 9, 2018 9:23 am

Miss America Organization Mutinies Over Plan to Drop Swimsuits

Half of state pageant leaders call for Gretchen Carlson's removal as chairwoman.

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Miss Tennessee 2017 Caty Davis participates in Swimsuit challenge during Miss America 2018. (Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)
Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions

In the wake of the Miss America organization’s recent decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition from the pageant, nearly half of the board has quit or been forced to resign, and 22 state pageant leaders are now calling for the removal of chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, reports the Wall Street Journal. Carlson, a former Miss America and an early leader in the #MeToo movement, announced in early June that Miss America was dropping the swimsuit and evening-gown elements from the competition. Instead, the pageant extended the onstage interview portion because Carlson said it was important to make women’s voices heard during a “cultural revolution in our country,” according to WSJ. Miss America started as a swimsuit competition in 1921.

The choice to jettison what is perhaps the most famous aspect of the pageant has divided the organization. Many volunteers who run the state and local competitions that feed the Miss America event say that the change is “disorienting,” according to WSJ. The change has also divided the community of former Miss Americas. Twenty-nine of the former winners released a statement on Sunday supporting Carlson and her team, but dozens of others did not sign on.