The Miss Teen USA pageant is getting a major update: They're ditching the long-criticized swimsuit competition, according to USA Today.
The Miss Universe organization has in the past defended judging young women for the way they look in swimwear as a way to encourage athleticism. So now, they're trading the swimwear portion for an "athletic wear competition," according to the report.
"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 state directors obtained by the outlet. "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 reigning Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik, applauded the switch to athletic wear, saying: "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. 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 could be leading a shift away from swimwear for other pageants. Julianne Hough, the host and creative producer for this year's Miss USA events, told the outlet, "There's definitely some work I think still to be done, that's where we've been talking with the producers. In the next few years we may grow from that, but let's see where this year goes."
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