Miss America Scrapping Swimsuit Portion; 2018 Miss Arkansas Pageant Not Impacted By The Change

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(CNN) -- The next edition of the Miss America pageant will scrap swimsuits and will be more inclusive to women of all sizes, the contest announced Tuesday (June 5).

Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America board of directors, announced on "Good Morning America" that the event will no longer feature a swimsuit portion.

Miss America will be a competition, not a pageant, Carlson said on the show Tuesday.

"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That's huge," she said.

Carlson also said the new Miss America competition will be more inclusive to women of "all shapes and sizes."

The official Miss America Twitter account tweeted a short video of a white bikini going up in a puff of smoke with the hashtag #byebyebikini.

The elimination of the swimsuit competition will begin at the national competition as some states have already completed selection.

"Change is rarely easy, and I think it will take some time for many people who have been invested in the Miss America Organization to make this adjustment," said Maggie Benton, Miss Arkansas 2017. "With that being said, I'm hopeful that these changes will be positive. I so trust our Miss America leadership, and I know that there is a force of women working for the good of the organization at the end of the day."

The change will not impact the Miss Arkansas competition that is scheduled to begin next week in Little Rock. Channel 5 will simulcast the 2018 Miss Arkansas pageant June 16 at 7 p.m.

"The decision to make this change was important because it allows us to embrace women differently to do what we ultimately are passionate about in providing exceptional opportunities and scholarships for education," said Jessie Bennett, Miss America trustee. "I personally still believe that being mentally and physically healthy is an important component of taking on the responsibility of being a local, state or national titleholder, but my hope is that we work to continue to educate young women on healthy lifestyles."

Stacey Jones started the Miss UAFS pageant in 1978. She said the change will have a positive impact on the pageant's future, especially on a local level.

"All locals are going to see an increase," she said. "Contestants tell us all the time or potential contestants, swimsuit is not something I want to go on state with."

Katie Burgess, Miss UAFS 2016, said she believes the modifications will encourage more participation and individuality.

"I'm interested to see how many people are going to do it a little bit different and I think that's a good change because it will allow women to express themselves in whatever way they want to be," she said.

It's not the only change coming

But the elimination of swimsuits isn't the only change coming to the 97-year-old event. The evening gown competition is being revamped as well. Carlson said contestants will be able to wear "whatever they choose."

The big changes to Miss America had been expected since the Miss America organization is now beingĀ led entirely by women for the first time.

Just last month Regina Hopper was appointed president and CEO of the Miss America Organization, and Marjorie Vincent-Tripp was named as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Foundation. They joined Carlson, who was named chairwoman in December.

The female trio takes over for the leaders of the Miss America Organization who resigned in December after the Huffington Post revealed that leaders and employees had sent emails disparaging pageant contestants, including references to their weight and sex lives.

A new era for the organization

In the statement announcing the new leaders, Miss America said the all-female team signaled a new era for the organization, best known for its widely televised pageants.

In another first, all three leaders are former pageant winners in the Miss America system.

Hopper, former CEO of Intelligent Transportation Society of America, was Miss Arkansas 1983. Vincent-Tripp, an assistant attorney general at the Florida Office of the Attorney General, was Miss America 1991. Finally, Gretchen Carlson, the advocate and former Fox News host, was Miss America 1989.

The next Miss America competition is September 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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