Local competitors react to Miss America changes - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Local competitors react to Miss America changes

The #MeToo movement has sparked a big change to the Miss America pageant. The organization announced Tuesday it's cutting swimsuits and evening gowns from the competition to focus on brains rather than beauty. 

Of course, this is creating a buzz across the country, especially in young women who compete in these types of events. 

“I found out with everyone else, and all of my friends who are competing with me we are all like texting each other and calling each other, 'omg did you hear this?' It was a total shock to everyone," said current Miss South Florida Fair, Taylor Tyson. 

In 3 weeks Tyson will compete in Miss Florida, which is the last competition before the Miss America pageant in September. It will be Tyson's last time wearing a bathing suit on stage. 

"At orientation last month there was a rumor going around that the swimsuit portion of the contest would be going away, but nobody could confirm that. So I wasn't totally surprised, but what totally surprised me was the evening gowns," said Miss South Florida Fair pageant executive director Theresa LePore. 

LePore has served as executive director for Miss South Florida Fair for the past 8 years. During that time, young women have always been required to wear swimsuits. 

"Be honest everybody wants to see somebody in a swimsuit,” said LePore. 

LePore welcomes the change and believes this may open the door to young women who are very talented but maybe lack the body confidence to compete. 

"I have had ladies come in nervous about the bathing suit because they weren't the size 0 or size double 0," said LePore. 

Former competitors are mixed emotions about the changes. Kelly OBrien was in her first local competition 30 years ago. She said she's watched the swimsuit portion evolve from one-pieces, to two-pieces to even tinier two-pieces. 

"Not that you have to be size 0 or size 2 or stick thin, but you have to be healthy. You have to have a healthy life style and healthy attitude because again you are a role model for girls and that's what Miss America is all about," said OBrien. 

As for parents of current competitors, some believe the new decision doesn't change much about the pageant because they still have the talent portion. 

“Yes as a father I probably feel a little more easier about her not parading across the stage in high heels in a bathing suit,” said Frank Tyson.  

The organization said the swimsuit portion only counts for a small percentage, women earn the majority of their points showcasing their talent and during the interview. 

“It’s helped me graduate college debt free and going into law school this competition is one of the ways I’m choosing to support myself,” said Tyson.  

For more information about Miss America: CLICK HERE 

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