The decision by the Miss America Pageant to drop the swimsuit portion of the competition is winning praise from contestants, who tell horror stories about the mental and physical strain of getting ready to put on a bikini and parading in front of the judges, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"You spend so many hours getting ready for this. Last summer, as I was getting ready for Miss Texas it was a great experience, but to get ready for the swimsuit part I sent three hours a day working out, and I had to weigh everything I ate," Emma Fay Rudkin told News Radio 1200 WOAI.
The former two-time Miss San Antonio winner, who now runs the deaf and hard of hearing advocacy group Aid the Silent, tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI, the swimsuit portion is just a small portion of the program, yet it's the hardest for most of the contestants. She says it's time to move on.
"This portion of it always seems to take away from what the purpose is," she says.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who is head of the organization's board of trustees, made the announcement this week on ABC's "Good Morning America.""We're not going to judge you on your appearance because we are interested in what makes you you," she said.
She says the organization it's taking a whole new approach to the nationally televised competition to reflect women's empowerment.
"We are no longer a pageant," said on "GMA." "We are a competition."
The swimsuit portion will be replaced by an interview with the judges.
It was only stressful for contestants, it had pageant parents gritting their teeth.
Rudkin's mother, Kathy, says they hated the idea of their scantily clad daughters being paraded on stage, but they begrudgingly signed on because it was part of the pageant's history.
"Any time you put a girl into a swimsuit and have them parade them around for someone judge their body, that's never as a parent something you're thrilled to have done."
She, too, praises the move to focus on brains, not bare bodies."Your job is not your swimsuit, it's to go out and be a community advocate."
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BLUE DOOR STUDIOS. COURTESY KATHY RUDKIN