The Miss Universe Organization announced on June 29 that Miss Teen USA will eliminate the swimwear competition from its pageants and will instead replace it with athletic wear.
“We’ve decided to introduce athletic wear in place of swimsuits in our Miss Teen USA competitions moving forward. 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,” Paula M. Shugart, president of The Miss Universe Organization, told Epoch Times.
This year’s pageant features women ages 14 to 19 from all 50 states, including Washington D.C. Fifty one contestants will strut down the runway in athletic wear as a way to showcase and promote wellness and fitness—a move which reigning Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik, approves of.
“I have been an athlete my entire life. As a member of a softball team and a competitive dance team, I spend a lot of time in athletic wear,” said Haik.”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.”
The new change is to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty,” as described by Shugart. The celebratory of women’s strength and confidence in the Miss Universe organization has been illustrated with previous contestants.
Miss District of Columbia Deshauna Barber, an Army officer was crowned 2016’s Miss USA and spoke on the strength of women in the military.
“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it is an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military,” she said. “We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit I am powerful, I am dedicated and it’s important to recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”
Barber added: “Serving in the military has taught me that being confidently beautiful is about being able to earn respect from people regardless of what you look like. As a woman in the military, people associate beauty with weakness and they learn very quickly that I’m extremely strong, and though I’m small, I’m powerful. Confidently beautiful is being myself and being very happy with who I’ve become.”
The 2016 Miss Teen USA Competition will stream live from The Venetian Las Vegas on Saturday, July 30, at 7pm PT / 10pm ET on www.missteenusa.com.