Why Miss Teen USA is swapping the swimwear round for sportswear

The change marks a positive step for pageants

The bikini round, Vaseline on the teeth, and a quest for world peace – beauty pageants play a pretty trite role in a world where narrowing the pay gap ranks higher on most women’s list of priorities than acquiring a thigh gap.

So, three cheers for Miss Teen USA for taking a small but progressive step away from archaic gender stereotyping. The American pageant for 14 to 19-year-old girls, has announced it’s ditching the swimwear round and swapping bikinis for sportswear, starting with the next pageant on July 30.

Following in the footsteps of the Miss World competition, which removed the bikini round back in 2014, the motive behind the change is to ‘celebrate being healthy, and being in shape and being comfortable in your own skin,’ according to Michael Antinoro, the head of original content at talent agency IMG (via the New York Times). The agency bought the Miss Universe Organisation, including Miss Teen USA, from Donald Trump last year after two television partners dropped the competition in response to his controversial comments about illegal immigrants.

Seemingly in much smarter hands, the change comes as part of an on-going effort to focus on the contestants’ accomplishments offstage – such as sporting accolades or charity work – rather than basing their success, or failure, solely on their appearance. So, the new round will involve athleisure, which Antinoro has defined as ‘clothes the contestants might wear to the gym or yoga class.’

The change will hopefully send a resounding message to young women that self-acceptance and living a purposeful life far outweigh physical perfection, which beauty pageants have historically been blasted over. *insert party popper emoji here*

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