ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY - In the nine months that Cara Mund has been Miss America, not once has she ever had to don a swimsuit as part of her duties.
The reigning Miss America told The Associated Press on Tuesday night she supports the decision of the Miss America Organization to drop the swimsuit competition, starting this September.
The former Miss North Dakota said Miss America is all about scholarship opportunities for young women, adding they shouldn’t have to display their bodies in swimwear in order to get college assistance.
“Swimsuits should never equal scholarships,” she said. “I believe that a woman’s lifestyle and fitness can be showcased in a way that does not display her in a swimsuit. The Miss America Organization is a scholarship program. No woman should ever feel like her physical appearance limits her from seeking out these scholarship opportunities.”
Mund will be the last Miss America to have worn a swimsuit onstage during the nationally televised competition.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America and the new head of the organization’s board of trustees, made the announcement Tuesday.
Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes led to his departure, said the board had heard from potential contestants who lamented, “We don’t want to be out there in high heels and swimsuits.”
The announcement came after a shake-up at the organization that resulted in the top three positions being held by women. The overhaul was triggered by an email scandal last December in which Miss America officials mocked winners’ intelligence, looks and sex lives.
Instead of showing off in a bathing suit, each contestant will interact with the judges to “highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition to perform the job of Miss America,” the organization said.