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Organizers: Miss Mississippi Pageant will have swimwear this year

VICKSBURG — Gretchen Carlson, the first former Miss America to be named chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning that the Miss America Pageant would no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance and is doing away with the swimsuit phase of the competition.

Carlson also said, “We are no longer a pageant, we are a competition.”

With the Miss Mississippi Pageant festivities less than two weeks away, David Blackledge, who is the chairman of the board of the Miss Mississippi Pageant Corporation, said the state pageant would remain the same this year.

“Right now we will continue to have the competition as is at our state pageant. We will have swimwear and eveningwear. They will have everything they will normally go through. So right now the competition will be the same,” Blacklegde said, adding,

“They (contestants) won at the local level based on these guidelines, so they are going to be judged at the state level on theses guidelines.”

However, Blackledge said when it comes to the National Pageant, the newly crowned Miss Mississippi would not compete in a swimwear competition.

In addition, the eveningwear competition will be altered since there will be no swimwear competition.

Each contestant, Blackledge said, can either wear an existing evening gown they wore during the Miss Mississippi Pageant or they can wear a gown that reflects their personality or platform.

The news of the changes was no surprise to Blackledge. He said he participated in a conference call with the Miss America Organization on Sunday.

In doing away with the swimsuit competition, Blackledge said the Miss America Organization plans to replace it with more background information on the contestants.

“There was an implication that they (contestants) would talk about their platforms and give some information about themselves — to show they can talk in front of a national audience and to be able to express themselves,” Blackledge said.

On GMA, Carlson said that in place of the swimsuit portion of the competition, Miss America contestants would now take part in a live interactive session with the judges.

And as far as the judging percentages, that was still in the works, Blackledge said.

As of now, the swimsuit phase of the Miss Mississippi competition counts for 15 percent of the contestants’ score and the evening gown counts for 20 percent.

Carlson said, “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,’ so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore.”

Blackedge said he did not want to give his personal opinion of the changes, but the Miss Mississippi Pageant Corporation will support the Miss America Organization.