The Short of It
Bye bye, bikinis! Miss Teen USA is eliminating its swimsuit competition.
It's true: After 33 years, the pageant is 86ing the swimwear competition and plans to let the contestants rock athletic wear instead. Hallelujah!
According to Miss Universe president Paula Shugart, the move is a sign of the times, and it's being made to celebrate women's strength and confidence in a modern way that's relevant to today's 15- to 19-year-old contestants and viewers.
"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," she wrote in a memo. "Our hope is that this decision will help all of Miss Teen USA's fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are."
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We spoke to Miss New Jersey Olivia DeMattio to get her thoughts on the move. "I like that they're doing away with swimsuit for teens!" she told Parenting.com. "Fifteen-year-olds shouldn't have to feel the pressure to have abs to win. I just wish for the girls' sake they announced this months ago instead of 20 days before they leave for competition. I'm sure these girls have been killing themselves in the gym and with expensive personal trainers for months now and may feel like it was all for nothing."
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Current Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik, told Yahoo that she is also in support of the decision. "I have been an athlete my entire life," she explained. "As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear. 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."
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I love this shift. As an admitted pageant watcher, I have never understood why having a six-pack was part of the price of entry. Switching to athletic wear promotes the idea that a strong, healthy body is beautiful. And that's a great message to send to our teens!