Toledo's pageant world reacts to Miss America changes

Miss America eliminates swimsuit competition, putting the focus on talent, scholarship, and each contestant's personal platform. (WNWO)

TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) - Miss America contestants will no longer be judged on their looks. The organization announced that the swimsuit competition is being eliminated.

This weekend kicks off the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program, where the winner will move onto the Miss America Pageant.

The executive director of the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program said these changes at the state level will happen next year. This change will also be made on the local competition level as well.

“I was Mrs. Ohio, United States,” said Katie Maskey, a competitor and pageant coach.

It’s far more than a pretty dress and makeup.

“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Maskey. “Dedication to your cause, what you want to advocate for, your platform.”

Miss America began with a swimwear competition, but the organization is now changing the pageant stigma. Starting with the focus on talent and scholarship.

“It’s so important to show other talents and other abilities,” said Elizabeth Baldwin, a talent coach. “There are so many different things out there, and these girls are so multi-talented.”

It will also eliminate ‘pageant’ and refer to it as a competition.

“For Miss America in particular, it has really been about the interview and the talent,” said Maskey.

This will help combine both the beauty and the brains.

“I think it’s more appropriate in today’s time to focus on a woman’s intelligence, their mind, and give them the credit for that,” said Tricia Maassel, a former Miss Ohio contestant.

Some people oppose the change, saying all women should be comfortable in their skin, which is shown through the swimsuit portion. Maskey said it’s just something people need to get used to.

“It’s just changing tradition, that’s a little harder to get through those changes,” said Maskey.

By eliminating the swimsuit portion, women will now have more interaction between judges to discuss their goals and future dreams for our communities.

“I think it’ll just help the platforms, all of the community service, the social work these young women are doing,” said Maskey.

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