The Miss Universe organization announced on Wednesday there will no longer be a swimsuit competition in the Miss Teen USA pageant. Instead, contestants will compete in athletic wear.
According to USA Today, the switch to athleisure fashion isn’t as much about being less exploitative but more about focusing on physical fitness for the 15-19-year-old contestants.
Miss Universe president Paula Shugart shared in a memo, “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. 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.”
Katherine Haik, the reigning Miss Teen USA, told USA Today, “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. 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.”
This shift in overall rebranding of the Miss Universe Organization began when WME-IMG, the talent agency, purchased it from former owner Donald Trump in September.
This may also trickle down to the other pageants. This year’s Miss USA host Julianne Hough, who was also creative producer, spoke with USA Today after the pageant in early June and talked about getting rid of the swimsuit competition at some point.
“They’ve talked about different ideas for that aspect of the competition… being confident in the fact you worked hard to get that body and you go to the gym and you eat healthy and do certain things,” she said. “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.”
The 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant will be held in Las Vegas on July 30.