Miss Teen USA Is Ditching The Swimsuit Competition, Making The Pageant Only Slightly More Bearable

Praise hand emoji all around, ladies. Miss Teen USA is ditching the swimsuit competition, according to USA Today, and it’s really about fucking time. After Miss Universe nixed the prancing around half naked in front of old male judges, Miss Teen USA’s announcement means that now 14- to 19-year-old teens won’t have to strip down to show their “athleticism.” Because “athleticism” means being an athlete, like actually doing sports. Not having a perfectly toned bikini bod. Instead, the women will parade themselves in athletic wear, so they still have to look great in yoga pants and a sports bra, but at least it’s more honest.

“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 wrote on behalf of Miss Teen USA 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.”

Taking away the bikini competition doesn’t seem to be a way to shame women for their bodies, but more of a move toward focusing less on contestants’ naked bodies (though the whole premise of pageants is to judge women on their appearance). If teens are still going to parade around on stage chasing after a tiara, at least now they don’t have to don a bikini so judges can determine who has the least amount of fat.

The move to athletic wear in the name of athleticism just seems more straightforward — because we all know yoga pants and a tank top can be just as revealing as a bikini at the end of the day. But it does send a message to younger women that it’s not about “being skinny” or anything else, but walking around in what you would wear to soccer practice. It also puts the focus on being fit and healthy, as opposed to  just being almost naked.

The current Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik, told USA Today in an exclusive interview that she liked the move. “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,” she said. So at least it’s comfortable for the teens.

Now that Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA have removed the swimsuit portion, there’s still Miss USA to deal with. Julianne Hough, the producer and host of Miss USA thinks the change might be coming, just not anytime soon. “There’s definitely some work I think still to be done, that’s where we’ve been talking with the producers. In the next few years we may grow from that, but let’s see where this year goes,” she said told USA Today earlier this month.

Alright, fine. Pageants always walk a thin line between objectification and celebration of women, but getting rid of the swimsuit portion does make them easier to swallow.