Executives in the Miss America organization announced Tuesday that the nearly century-old pageant will no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance.

Effective this year, the show will scrap the famed swimsuit competition. Instead, the organization said in a press release, “each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life, and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.”

Last December, chief executive Sam Haskell and board chairman Lynn Weidner stepped down after a story by HuffPost revealed disparaging emails sent by pageant leaders and staffers about former contestants, using crude language.

Gretchen Carlson — the former Fox News anchor who won Miss America in 1999 — was then named as the organization’s new chairman. In a statement released Tuesday, Carlson credited the Me Too movement with overhauling the event.

Miss Texas Margana Wood after advancing from the swimsuit component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. (Mark Makela/Reuters)
Miss Texas Margana Wood after advancing from the swimsuit component of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. (Mark Makela/Reuters)

“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” Carlson said. ”We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”

The organization coined a new hashtag for the occasion: #byebyebikini. Miss America 2019 will take place Sept. 9 in Atlantic City.

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