LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - There are dramatic changes ahead for the Miss America competition, which were announced on Tuesday by Gretchen Carlson, chairwoman for the Miss America Board of Directors.
"We will no longer judge our candidates based on their outward physical appearance. That's huge," Carlson said.
Miss America will no longer feature the swimsuit portion of the competition. They also are making changes to the evening gown portion, allowing the contestants to choose what they want to wear.
But not everyone is happy about the pageant doing away with the swimsuit portion. Brittney Bennett, Miss Lubbock 2012, made a post on Facebook addressing the changes.
"...I don't think the swimsuit portion was intended to objectify women," Bennett said. "As a former competitor, I felt that the swimsuit component was a way to show my physical fitness, dedication, hard work, and confidence."
Miss Lubbock from 2015, Jacy Etter, spoke with KCBD NewsChannel 11:
"It's never been my favorite because my genetics are not a size zero," Etter said. "I started off going into it thinking 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm doing this,' and once I was on stage I felt just better about myself because I had the confidence and the positive body image to be able to go out there and do that."
Justin Hughes is the Executive Director of the Miss Lubbock Scholarship Organization and has been involved with the Miss America organization since 1992. He said there's a misconception surrounding the swimsuit portion of the competition.
"They always refer to prancing around in a swimsuit on stage in high heels. To me it was never that," Hughes said. "It was showing their hard work and their efforts that they put in to accomplish goals of being physically fit and being the best that they can actually be."
When asked whether these changes will be positive or negative, Hughes said the public will have to wait and see. He does believe it may bring girls to compete that wouldn't have done so before.
"I know that there's been many girls in the past that have wanted to compete at the local level but didn't feel it was the right thing for them that might actually return and compete with these new set of guidelines," Hughes said.
Miss Lubbock USA pageant, hosted this weekend, will still have the swimsuit portion. Miss USA and Miss America are two separate entities.