The war for Miss America

Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin being crowned Miss America by the outgoing title holder Cara Mund last Sunday. The 98th Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this year has been rebranded the socially aware Miss America - or "Miss Am
Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin being crowned Miss America by the outgoing title holder Cara Mund last Sunday.PHOTO: NYTIMES
Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin being crowned Miss America by the outgoing title holder Cara Mund last Sunday. The 98th Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this year has been rebranded the socially aware Miss America - or "Miss Am
The 98th Miss America competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this year has been rebranded the socially aware Miss America - or "Miss America 2.0". Backstage, however, turmoil reigned.PHOTO: NYTIMES

How does a nearly 100-year-old institution survive in the #MeToo era? For a start, there were no swimsuits this year.

If you had watched this year's Miss America pageant, you may have noticed a few changes. For starters, the event is now a "competition", not a "pageant". The participants were "candidates" - interviewing for the job of Miss America - not "contestants".

There was no runway this year, and the word "Miss" had been stripped from the sashes, though each still had a little pocket that could conceal a lipstick tube. And, of course, in the wake of #MeToo, there were no swimsuits. This was the debut of the socially aware Miss America - or "Miss America 2.0", as it has been rebranded by its new chairman, Ms Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor and Miss America 1989.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 16, 2018, with the headline 'The war for Miss America'. Print Edition | Subscribe