On Tuesday ABC announced that the Miss America organization is "scrapping its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance."

So we asked our friend Tessa Dee, who is a former Miss South Dakota and participated in the Miss America Pageant, about her thoughts on the news.

Tessa is a Mitchell, South Dakota native and proudly represented the state in the Miss America Pagent in 2013. This is her amazing insight and thoughtful perspective.

"The Miss America organization remains the largest provider of scholarship dollars to young women in the world, so if this is a way that the organization believes they can gain and retain more sponsorships and scholarships for young women, I’m all for it.

The daily job of Miss America, or even a state or local titleholder, obviously doesn’t require wearing swimsuits. I think it’s purposefully turning itself into a competition, not a pageant, to find a young woman who can do the job well while still being an example for her peers and youth across the county.

I, personally, am disappointed to see both the swimsuit and evening gown competitions leave the Miss America competition, as I gained so much from them and truly enjoyed my experience competing. I learned so much about health and fitness while preparing for the swimsuit competition, and I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.

Also, Miss America started as a 'bathing beauties' competition in 1921 on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, and since my time competing, I have felt like a part of that tradition.

For me, I always felt empowered in the idea that I could represent myself in a beautiful gown, wear a swimsuit and feel completely healthy and confident on stage, speak my mind eloquently in the interview room, and do real service work and make change in my community all at the same time as a titleholder.

That’s what Miss America represents to me: having it all, taking action, and being a great example in every aspect of your life. I am excited to see where the Miss America Organization goes with these changes, and I look to them to continue to support, guide, and empower women across America."


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