Miss Teen USA pageant to ditch the bikini; swimsuits being replaced by athletic wear

The Miss Universe organization is announcing that the Miss Teen USA beauty pageant will no longer feature contestants in swimsuits. Instead, the young women will be judged in a brand-new athletic wear competition.

Shift to 'celebrate women's strength and beauty in more constructive ways'

Former Miss Teen USA Kristen Dalton is seen in an official pageant photo shoot in 2010. The pageant is bidding goodbye to its swimwear component, which will be replaced by athletic wear in future competitions. (Rob Loud/Getty Images)

The Miss Teen USA beauty pageant will no longer feature contestants in swimsuits, its parent group, the Miss Universe organization, announced Wednesday. 

Instead, the young women competing for the crown will be judged in a brand-new athletic wear competition, according to statement posted on the Miss Universe website. 

One of America's highest-profile beauty pageants, Miss Teen USA typically features 51 young women, aged 15-19, in competition (representing the 50 states as well as D.C.) for the top title. 

Today's announcement is designed to highlight athleticism among competitors, as well as general physical fitness.

"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," Katherine Haik, Miss Teen USA 2015, told USA Today.

As softball team member and competitive dancer, Haik added, she spends a lot of time in athletic wear.

'This new direction sets a strong example for our peers,' says Katherine Haik, Miss Teen USA 2015. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The shift is meant to "celebrate women's strength, confidence and beauty in different, more constructive ways," Miss Universe president Paula Shugart said in a memo to state directors.

"This decision reflects an important cultural shift we're all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives and encourage those in their communities to do the same."

In recent years, the community has gradually widened to include contestants who might not have fit the previous mould of a pageant participant. For instance, an Army officer was crowned Miss USA 2016 earlier this month, while the upcoming Miss America pageant will see its first openly gay contestant competing

In Canada, model and TV personality Jenna Talackova gained media attention in 2012 when she won a legal battle to be allowed to compete in the Miss Universe Canada contest, after being initially disqualified for being transgender.

The 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant will be held in Las Vegas on July 30.

About the Author

Jelena Adzic


Jelena Adzic is a reporter, writer and radio columnist with the CBC Arts Unit. Her eyes light up at the mention of design, visual art and architecture.