Bye-bye, bikinis

Published 1:04 am Thursday, June 7, 2018

Local coach: Miss America changes in keeping with times

The Miss America pageant will no longer feature women in swimsuits and evening gowns, and will no longer bill itself as a pageant, the organization announced this week.

Bill Alverson

Local attorney Bill Alverson, who has coached several winners of the Miss America pageant and gained national acclaim in “Coach Charming,” a reality television show about his other job, said the changes are consistent with the pageant’s new leadership.

The organization named Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox news host, chairwoman in January after emails surfaced in December showing that the former chief executive, Sam Haskell, had made disrespectful and misogynistic comments about former winners. Carlson became a voice for women’s rights in the workplace after filing a harassment lawsuit against the former Fox chairman in 2016.

“The crux of the #metoo movement is for gender equality to prevail and to remove women from situations where sexualization can be imposed or inferred,” Alverson said. “It opens up the pageant, now known as a competition, to be more inclusive to all body types. The goal is to have the winner more reflective of what Miss America does. It’s a change and a rather big one as Miss America started as a swimsuit competition.”

The first pageant, held in 1921, as a beachside pageant designed by Atlantic City to extend the summer vacation season. Back then, swimsuits looked more like short dresses.

Alverson said the changes have gotten mixed reactions from his clients.

“My clients have mixed feelings because swimsuit was motivation to hit the gym, but it’s also unrealistic presentation of most women’s figures,” he said. “Very rarely does a woman maintain that figure and therefore it’s a hard unrealistic expectation.”

Will viewers be as interested in Miss America without two of its trademark events? Alverson said he believes there must be a plan in the making.

“I think it will raise interest initially, but if the program is not executed, it will affect viewership,” he said. “I know that Miss America is working closely with ABC and thus I suspect a plan to generate and create interest is in the making. The end result could mean more competitors as it’s a great scholarship opportunity. It also further separates Miss America from other pageants.”