NEW YORK, June 29 (UPI) — The Miss Teen USA organization is swapping the swimsuit competition of the beauty pageant for an athletic wear competition, CNN is reporting.
The company is acknowledging a modern era of women’s empowerment, where beauty pageants are often considered demeaning to women.
“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.”
Pageant organizers have maintained the swimsuit competitions were meant to show off athletic prowess, so the shift allows the pageant to focus on physical fitness for its 15- to 19-year-old participants.
“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 reigning Miss Teen USA Katherine Haik.
“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,” she said.