Miss America vs Bikinis: Organization Defends the Swimsuit Competition
By Raphael Chestang
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After Miss Teen USA's decision to cast off their swimsuit segment, pressure has been placed on Miss America to follow suit. ET spoke with this year's contestants to get their take on the pageant show mainstay.
"In a teen perspective, I think that's appropriate," Kelly Koch, Miss Iowa 2016, admitted. "I don't think they need to be showing off their bodies and revealing that much."
"I'm glad they're focusing it more on the lifestyle and fitness portion," Patricia Ford, Miss Georgia 2016, added.
Regardless of how Miss Teen USA has ruled on the topic, Sam Haskell, Executive Chairman of Miss America, has assured that no similar changes are expected to be made to Miss America.
"I don't think Miss America will ever do away with the swimsuit competition," he told ET. "It's something that we love to show -- how physically fit our contestants are. It's part of the tradition of the organization."
Haskell pointed out that the first Miss America in 1921 wore a one-piece. Two-piece suits didn't get introduced until the bikini ban was lifted in 1997.
Kendall Bautista, Miss Alaska 2016, defended the swimsuit portion, noting the segment had a positive influence on her self-esteem.
"The confidence booster was huge!" she explained. "I used to be super shy before I found the Miss America organization. And just being on a stage in your swimsuit, there is no better way to gain self-confidence."