- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Miss Teen USA pageant is going bikini-free this July, dropping the traditional swimsuit competition, USA Today reported on Wednesday. Instead, contestants will model athletic wear.

“Pageant organizers have long said swimsuit portions were intended to show off the athleticism of the competitors,” USA Today said. “But Miss Teen USA’s transition to athletic wear reads as less exploitative and more focused on the importance of physical fitness for its younger participants, aged 15-19.”

“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,” Miss Universe president Paula Shugart wrote in a memo explaining the decision. “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.”

For now, at least, “the much-maligned swimsuit competition remains a staple of the [other] major pageants” run by the Miss Universe organization, USA Today noted.

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump sold his sole-ownership stake of the Miss Universe family of pageants last September to talent agency WME-IMG. The New York businessman had owned the rights to the Miss Universe and its related pageants in part or whole since 1996.

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