Miss Teen USA Cutting Swimsuit Competition

It was recently reported that the 51 women who will compete in future Miss Teen USA pageants will no longer do a swimsuit competition – this portion of the competition would be replaced by a brand new athletic wear competition.

Well, thank goodness. Because I’m sorry, but what 14 to 19 year old needs a bunch of judges (and Americans watching TV) judging their bodies in swimsuits? They’ve barely even grown into themselves! I understand these women are physically fit, but there’s no reason in hell that they should be baring it all for judges and viewers. They’re as young as FOURTEEN, people.

Athletic gear is a much more normal, realistic way of displaying their healthy physiques (and not to mention, much less revealing for girls 19 and under). And apparently, Julianne Hough, host and creative producer for this year’s Miss USA (where contestants range from ages 18 to 28), has considered removing swimsuits from these competitions altogether. Even though that’s years in the making and I’d most definitely applaud it, I’m happy that it’s at least happening with the Teen USA pageant for now.

I get that that the swimsuit competition is a pertinent component of these things (eh, I guess I get it), but in what universe is parading around in glorified underwear normal? Oh wait, in our world it is. Cue the Victoria’s Secret fashion show with almost-naked women parading around in freaking angel wings. Sigh.

Miss USA, Miss Universe, and all of these different pageants do a lot of great things for women: Candidates often say they feel empowered and encouraged to follow their dreams and the competitions often support great causes.

But, in the same token, I disagree that women should be baring it all for the stage. There’s no need to imply to viewers that six-pack abs and perfectly toned thighs are what’s necessary to be beautiful. Those characteristics are not reality for a majority of the world’s women. Let’s not forget that the average American woman is 5‘4” and 166 pounds. So no, this is not reality to most.

I’ve known super respectable and amazing women who have participated in pageants, and ladies, I am not putting you down. What I’m doing is giving all the viewers out there a reality check that it’s okay if you don’t look like this. And teens, please hold onto your innocence for as long as you can, and avoid skimpy swimsuits for a while (no, your dads didn’t pay me to write that).

To those watching these competitions and runway-type shows, let’s take the pressure off ourselves. And ladies who competed in this year’s Teen USA pageant – remember that athletic wear is a perfectly fine way to present your strong, amazing self. As former Miss Virginia said, “This is focusing on what bodies can do, not just what they look like.”

Preach sister, preach. That is a wrap. Congratulations to Miss Teen USA for this positive change in the body image movement. There’s still work to do, but it’s a start.

Photo credit: Josue Goge

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