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Local 'Miss Florida' contestant reacts to changes to competition

Posted at 9:33 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-06 06:50:41-04

The Miss America Organization is eliminating the swimsuit portion of the competition and one former contestant says while she's a bit disappointed, she understands the move.

Dana Dalton Judge was crowned Miss Florida in 1990 and went on to compete in what was then known as the Miss America pageant. 

"It was an amazing experience," Judge said. "I paid for my entire college education with scholarships through the Miss America Program." 

"Historically, Miss America was a swimsuit competition, and it's been almost a hundred years it was a swimsuit competition," she said.

Tuesday morning, Miss America Board Chair Gretchen Carlson announced the swimsuit portion of the competition would be no more.

"We truly want to take away the stereotypical part of the competition, like the swimsuit, and being judged on outward physical appearance. So that's what we're really changing here," Carlson said.

"I have to say, I'm just a little disappointed, but I do understand where the decisions come from," Judge said.

Judge said the swimsuit part of the competition taught her the importance of physical fitness, health, and dedication. 

"Looking at the bigger picture, you've got people in the U.S. looking at it, thinking it's objectifying women. In these times of the "me too movement," that we have to be really hyper-aware," Judge said.

Miss America is also getting rid of the "evening gown" portion. Instead, Miss America is asking contestants to wear whatever makes them feel confident. 

The organization is making an important distinction -- Miss America is not a pageant, but a competition.

"We'll be judging on what comes out of their mouths, which is the substance of a person and the goals that they have," Carlson said.

"I hope that's what competition does for it -- people look it at and say 'I don't have to be a pageant girl, I can go and compete, I can go do my best,'" Judge said. "That personality and the real person that comes out in the interview is the one that ends up winning on the stage."

The Miss Florida competition will be on June 30th. The new changes will not be implemented at the Miss Florida level until next year. Miss America is September 9th, where we will see those changes.