Miss America removes swimsuit competition–and it’s about time

Saadia Akhtar

This week it was announced that the Miss America would no longer have a swimsuit competition as part of its contest criteria. That portion will instead be replaced by an interview, in which contestants can talk about causes that they are passionate about.

This decision has received some backlash from some social media users who indicated the move is a demonstration of the overly-censored country we are becoming. But, it has also earned a lot of support.

Miss America’s board of directors made the right decision. It is long overdue that we stop judging women based on their appearances.

A woman’s worth should NOT be determined by her weight, her exercise routine or how many meals she has skipped to fit into that stage-worthy bikini.

Many previous Miss America winners have come out about eating disorders they developed while preparing for the competition. We need to teach women that a healthy body should not be achieved by starving yourself and that skinny does not necessarily mean the same thing as healthy. Healthy bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

This move also comes at an opportune time amidst the #MeToo movement. Women (and men) have come out with stories of sexual assault and harassment and have said that enough is enough. Forcing these contestants to wear next to nothing and to be ogled by an audience was demeaning and served no legitimate purpose. It merely fed an atmosphere of objectification.

Some might say this is a step backwards: after all, women should be able to show off their bodies. I agree that women should be able to wear whatever they want, but the Miss America contest should not be about showing off your body.

The woman who is crowned “Miss America” is supposed to be a role model for young women all across the country and is to advocate for issues such as domestic violence prevention and women’s education.

Role models should not be chosen by their appearances.