The athleisure trend is coming to the Miss Teen USA pageant and taking the place of the long-standing swimsuit competition. Miss Teen USA (for girls ages 14–19), the baby sister of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageant, just announced that for the first time in its 33-year history, the competing delegates will be dressed in activewear for what was previously known as the swimsuit portion of the pageant.
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Organizers of the pageant say this shift is meant to highlight the athleticism of the delegates and will be less about showing the young women’s bodies and more about stressing the importance of physical fitness. In an interview with USA Today, the reigning Miss Teen USA, Katherine Haik said, “This new direction for Miss Teen USA is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers.”
The Miss Universe Organization president, Paula Shugart, says this shift was made to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty.” In a memo about the organization’s decision Shugart wrote, “This decision reflects an important cultural shift we’re all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives and encourage those in their communities to do the same. Our hope is that this decision will help all of Miss Teen USA’s fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are.”
Ironically, the Miss Universe organization was born in 1951 as a result of Miss America Yolande Betbeze refusing to pose in a swimsuit after winner her title. Catalina, the swimsuit sponsor for Miss America at the time, was so angered by this that it withdrew its support for the Miss America pageant and went on to help start the Miss Universe Organization in 1952.
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