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Miss America eliminates swimsuit competition, won't judge physical appearance anymore

The Miss America organization has eliminated the swimsuit portion of its competition for the first time in its 96-year history.

"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson told Good Morning America. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouth that we're interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives."

Carlson said the competition would focus on the talent and interview phases to determine scholarship awards, rather than operate as a beauty pageant. The Miss America pageant originated as a swimwear pageant, but now, Carlson says contestants can wear anything they want, knowing their "evening wear" and other clothing choices won't be factored into their final score.

"We've heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We'd love to be a part of your program but we don't want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,'" said Carlson. "So guess what? You don't have to do that anymore."

Carlson, who won Miss America in 1989, said new female leadership in the organization had pushed for change, hoping to be more welcoming to a wider range of women. "We're moving forward," she said, "and evolving in this cultural revolution." Hear her explain the change at Good Morning America.