Miss America Swimsuit Ban Roils Pageant World

The pageant world is split over the decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition from Miss America. The Washington Free Beacon, which has covered the pageant closely since its early years, sides with those who believe it was a mistake for the pageant to take such a drastic turn from its roots.

Let's begin with some history. When the pageant first took place in 1921 on the Atlantic City boardwalk, the winner was crowned "The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America," and she was awarded while still donning the swim suit she had worn for the entirety of the competition. The pageant adopted the title "Miss America" the next year, but it remained a strictly bathing-suit contest until after World War II, when contestants also began wearing evening gowns for the official crowning.

Now in the modern age there are many aspects to the pageant, but its swimsuit portion remains the competitor's best opportunity to show off "fitness and nutrition," a former competitor told the Wall Street Journal.

You'll quickly notice, the bodies showcased during Miss America are a special type of figure that takes commitment to achieve.

Here, for example, is Sara Zeng, last year's winner of Miss America's swimsuit award, named the "Fitness & Lifestyle award."

A post shared by Miss America (@missamerica) on

Last month, Zeng posted another picture of herself and defended the swimsuit portion, saying she felt "beautiful, confident, empowered, capable, strong, and proud to show how dedication and hard work pay off" during the competition, not objectified.

A post shared by Miss Florida (@missamericafl) on

"I have never felt so comfortable in my own body and never been more confident," Zeng wrote. "Competing in swimsuit inspired me to work hard and make healthier life choices and I am physically and mentally stronger because of it."

"The swimsuit competition is not about how big or small someone is or objectifying women. It is about women who are bold, empowered, dedicated, and not afraid to serve a huge helping of beauty along with their brains because no one should ever be ashamed of or condemned for their beauty."

Hard to argue with Zeng, who brought her swimsuit with her to Daytona Beach for Independence Day.

A post shared by Sara Zeng (@sarazeng_) on

And regularly shows off the body she worked so hard for throughout Florida.

A post shared by Sara Zeng (@sarazeng_) on

A post shared by Sara Zeng (@sarazeng_) on

Laura Wilson of Utah made a similar argument as Zeng, reacting to the swimsuit cancellation by saying she "never felt as strong, beautiful, and CONFIDENT as I did walking across the Miss America stage in a swim suit knowing I was living a healthy lifestyle, exercising, and taking care of myself."

"I will forever be PROUD to say that I was part of the Miss America class of 2017 that supported and encouraged each other while walking across that stage as confident, strong, successful women," she said.

Here's Rachel Wyatt, a former Miss America contestant from South Carolina and a former Clemson University dancer, who also clearly put some time into the body she showcased at the pageant.

A post shared by Rachel Wyatt (@rachelyukiwyatt) on

A post shared by Rachel Wyatt (@rachelyukiwyatt) on

The hard work paid off, and now she's taking her talents to America's Team in Dallas.

A post shared by Rachel Wyatt (@rachelyukiwyatt) on

22 state pageant leaders are working to oust Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson over last month's swimsuit decision, and dozens of former Miss America winners refused to sign on to a statement in support of current leadership.

Should they choose to keep up their valiant fight to defend the great American tradition of celebrating swim wear, the Washington Free Beacon will do its best to be a wind at their back.

Also here's Kate Upton in a swimsuit just because.