Bye, bikini: Miss Teen USA ends swimsuit competitio­n

- Maeve McDermott @maeve_mcdermott Contributi­ng: Cara Kelly

One of America’s highest-profile beauty pageants got a modern update.

The Miss Universe organizati­on announced Wednesday that the Miss Teen USA pageant will no longer include a swimsuit competitio­n. Instead, the 51 women (from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia) will be judged in an athletic wear competitio­n.

“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,” reigning Miss Teen USA Katherine Haik told USA TODAY.

The move is consistent with the rebranding of the Miss Universe Organizati­on under WMEIMG, the talent agency that purchased it from Donald Trump in September.

In keeping with the new tagline, “Confidentl­y Beautiful,” Miss USA celebrated women typically outside the Miss Uni- verse mold this month, featuring its first competitor with hearing disabiliti­es and crowning an Army officer — Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber — its winner.

“If they are looking to expand, this is a very shrewd move. It’s consistent with the overall brand and message the new owners are talking about,” pageant coach Valerie Hayes said. “I think that it will cause more parents to be open to their daughters competing.” Teen Vogue’s digital deputy editor, Amanda Chan, said social media engagement around the magazine’s stories of body diversity reaffirmed her belief that this generation of young women values individual­ity and expression over conformity.

“Every body is a swimsuit body,” Chan said. “Emphasizin­g happiness, health and strength is always going to be a more positive message for teen girls than emphasizin­g what you may look like in a swimsuit. ”

The Miss Teen USA pageant will be in Las Vegas on July 30.

 ?? KEVIN PONG ?? Jane Axhoj represents North Carolina in 2015’s Miss Teen USA pageant.
KEVIN PONG Jane Axhoj represents North Carolina in 2015’s Miss Teen USA pageant.

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