Miss America recently decided to end the swimsuit portion of their competition, stating that competitors will no longer be judged on “outward physical appearance”, but rather their achievements and goals in life.
The decision was met with mixed reviews from former Miss America contestants, with many praising the change as long overdue, and others criticising it for being unnecessary.
As a local titleholder, I’ve never been more proud to be involved in the Miss America Organization. I am no longer going to be judged on the way my body was naturally made. What a positive change. #byebyebikini
Was saddened to learn that @MissAmericaOrg caved to the pressure & eliminated the swimsuit & evening gown competition. As someone who competed and benefitted from the system I’m disappointed to learn it will no longer value women like me. 😥
However, Miss World banned the bikini back in 2013, with chairwoman Julia Morley saying “it doesn’t do anything for the woman, and it doesn’t do anything for any of us.”
Last year’s winner of Miss World Australia, Esma Voloder, says that banning the bikini was a good step forward as it allows the girls to focus on other aspects of the competition, like talent and interviews.
“A major part of why I did Miss World was because there was no swimwear,” she says.
“I think it is really important to take care of your body, and I do that anyway, but as soon as there is pressure on you, I feel like the anxiety and stress can kick in.”
Out of the 25 women competing in the Victorian Finals this year, Huda Omar was one of the five chosen to compete in the national finals.
As a Muslim woman, she says that she is happy the swimsuit portion of the competition is over as it creates more opportunity for women like her who dress modestly because of their culture and religion.
“If girls had to wear bikinis in the competition, a lot of people wouldn’t apply and you never know what Australia might miss out on,” she says.
“I applied because I wanted to be an inspiration to show that you can still wear your long shirt and rock your turban, and still be confident and beautiful.”
She believes that beauty pageants are still relevant in society today as it gives women the opportunity to be a role model for other young girls, and increases self-esteem.
“A lot of people say that beauty pageants are only about physical appearance, because a lot of girls tend to be tall and slim, but times have changed,” she says.
“Beauty pageants are about your personality and who you are, and beauty is not just on the outside. Even if a group of people says that it is, why not challenge it? A bunch of girls can come together, empower one another and say ‘no’, and they will change the rules.”
The national finals of Miss World Australia will be held in August at the Palazzo Versace in the Gold Coast.