Miss Teen USA 2016 To Eliminate The Swimsuit Competition — Katherine Haik, Reigning Miss Teen USA, Approves

Miss Teen USA is eliminating the swimsuit competition. According to an article in USA Today, it’s bye-bye bikinis and hello athleisure wear.

The Miss Universe pageant organization announced that the teen pageant will be nixing the swimsuit portion of the competition and replacing it with an athletic wear segment.

Although the swimsuit segments of many of these beauty pageants have been criticized over the years, pageant organizers have long said that they are meant to showcase the athleticism of the competitors. But most critics still insist that parading in a bikini for judges is demeaning. With this switch, the Miss Teen USA pageant seems to be hoping for a happy medium that doesn’t exploit its pageant queens, who are typically between the ages of 15 and 19.

“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,” said Katherine Haik, the current Miss Teen USA. “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.”

According to the New York Daily News, this sentiment was echoed by executives in the Miss Universe Organization.

“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 said in a memo to the state directors.

As the New York Daily News reports, this swimsuit ban at Miss Teen USA 2016 is just the latest step major beauty pageants have been taking to reflect the norms of an evolving society.

At Miss USA, Miss Pennsylvania Elena LaQuantra became the first competitor with a hearing disability to participate in the pageant. Also, just last week, Erin O’Flaherty was crowned Miss Missouri becoming the first openly gay contestant to do so.

Right now, it’s unclear whether the Miss USA pageant will also give its swimsuit portion the axe. According to Julianne Hough, the host and creative director for the Miss USA events this year, says there are changes to come in an interview with USA Today.

“There’s definitely some work I think still to be done, that’s where we’ve been talking with the producers,” she said about the pageant’s swimsuit competition. “In the next few years we may grow from that, but let’s see where this year goes.”

So far, the reactions to the swimsuit competition elimination have been mixed on social media. Some are applauding the decision while others are complaining that Miss Teen USA is just accommodating political correctness.

Some views were more radical, calling for an end to beauty pageants entirely.

The 2016 Miss Teen USA competition will be held in Las Vegas on July 30, with 51 contestants scheduled to compete for Katherine Haik’s crown.

[Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Ride Of Fame]

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