Miss America is scrapping its swimsuit competition, will no longer judge based on physical appearance

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ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) -- Miss America is scrapping its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance.

"We are no longer a pageant," 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. "We are a competition."

"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," Carlson said.

Instead, Miss America contestants will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges and wear attire that makes them feel confident.

"Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul?" Carlson asked.

As always, Miss America will win 50 thousand dollars in scholarship money, which is the focus now.

Crowned Miss America in 1989, former anchorwoman Carlson has become an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual harassment and a champion of the #MeToo movement. In 2016, she settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who stepped down after Carlson's and other employees' accusations.

"I could have never expected what would happen...22 months ago," Carlson said, but since then, "Thousands of women have been inspired to know that they can stand up and speak up and their voices will be heard."

She added, "If I’ve been a beacon of hope to any woman in that process, it has been worth it."

The 2019 Miss America Competition airs live on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 9 p.m. EST.

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