So long, swimsuit! Miss America revamps its competition by scrapping a big segment.

After 97 years, Miss America is putting and end to the swimsuit portion of the annual competition.

New competition chair Gretchen Carlson, who was crowned Miss America in 1989, announced the change during an appearance June 5 on "Good Morning America."

"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," she said. "That's huge. And that means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition."


The evening gown portion of the event is also making its way into history's dustbin in favor of a renewed focus on contestants' words and actions.

This is a welcome change following decades of criticism calling the swimwear segment misogynistic.

After Yolande Betbeze Fox won the competition in 1950, she stunned pageant fans by refusing to pose for photos in a swimsuit (though she did wear one during the competition as required).

"I'm not a model. I'm an opera singer," she's said to have argued at the time, according to her 2016 obituary on Alabama Living. Her defiance led a sponsor to leave the pageant and begin Miss USA, one of its top competitors.

The debate resurfaced in 1995, when Miss America fans voted whether or not to keep the swimsuit portion. They said yes.

Fox holds her bathing suit from the 1950 Miss America pageant, during a press conference in 1995. Photo by Bob Strong/AFP/Getty Images.

There are a few bright spots in swimsuit competition history, such as when Sierra Anne Sandison wore her insulin pump during the 2014 Miss Idaho pageant (a Miss America qualifier), raising awareness about diabetes and sparking a viral hashtag #ShowMeYourPump. She shared a heartfelt note on Facebook at the time:

"Honestly, it is terrifying walking out on stage in a swimsuit, let alone attached to a medical device. My message to everyone, diabetic or not, is that we all have something that doesn't 'measure up' to the beauty standards set by the media — and that is okay! ... Diabetes turned my life upside down when I was first diagnosed. Don't let your challenge hold you back or slow you down. Use it to, not only empower yourself and grow as an individual, but to serve and influence other people as well."

Responding to the new decision about the future of the swimsuit competition, Sandison simply tweeted, "OMG GUYS."

Naturally, this decision has a number of high profile detractors mourning the "death of an institution." 🙄

"The death of an institution, ladies and gentlemen," wrote Daily Mail political editor David Martosko. Sports commentator Clay Travis, a man who once went on CNN and said the two things he believes in are "the First Amendment and boobs," said this decision "effectively ends this show as a TV event." The Daily Caller's David Hookstead tweeted, "Miss America has canceled the swimsuit portion of the contest, and won't judge on physical appearance anymore. It's a sad day for the USA."

It should go without saying, but if you think that a competition deciding to shift emphasis away from judging a bunch of women like pieces of meat in favor of focusing more on their thoughts and ambitions, that's kind of messed up.

Only time will tell if the contest is able to truly shift away from judging women based on their appearances.

But this is an important step in the right direction toward a more inclusive, accepting world.

As Cara Mund, the 2018 Miss America, tweeted: "We're changing out of swimsuits and into a whole new era."

#ByeByeBikini

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less