It's important for pageant organisations to maintain continued relevance within society by aligning their goals with society's evolution.
That's according to Miss South Africa 2017's 1st princess, Boipelo Mabe.
HuffPost spoke to Mabe following the Miss America organisation announcement on Tuesday that the pageant is eliminating its swimsuit competition.
"We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance," said Gretchen Carlson, the chair of the organisation's board of trustees. "It's going to be what comes out of their mouths that we will be interested in," she added.
We can't ignore the beauty standards that have been developed and maintained over the years.
Miss America will no longer be referred to as a pageant either, but as a competition.
This decision to remove swimsuits has been met with mixed reaction.
1. Swimsuits aren't just about physical appearance
These seems like a very conservative idea not liberal at all. Taking us back to an age when women covered up and anything too provocative was found upon. We live in weird times #MissAmerica— Last Centurion (@centurion_last) June 6, 2018
If they really believe in their cause, they'll just have Miss America broadcast on radio.— Don Long (@theDonaldLong) June 5, 2018
I agree completely with the celebration of health and fitness, but many models are not necessarily fit and healthy. Many of them have eating disorders, and are put on horrible diets to maintain a size 00-1.— Joy (@JoyChailee) June 6, 2018
2. There is really no need for the swimsuit segment
Great for you. However, seeing woman in swim suits in beauty pageants gives girls an unrealistic example of beauty to attain. Let's be honest, no one looks at you all and thinks, "Oh they're so healthy". It's not a health competition. No shade. Just saying.— Reza Ada (@ResaAda22) June 5, 2018
Your beauty comes from within,no contest in a bikini is going to highlight that.These are strictly done for the pleasure of men.Sorry you didn't grow up with a healthy support system for life.But a beauty contest isn't a replacement for life lessons that are learned by hard work.— Gary L Greco (@Divotz2) June 5, 2018
Just an opinion of a female nurse who has treated very insecure, medically fragile pageant contestants..I'm guessing you've never done chest compressions on a 17 year old who's heart couldn't handle her 'good health and confidence'?— amy (@sarcastamy) June 6, 2018
Old ridiculous "competition" to see who is the prettiest in all the land. But, hey if people want to watch no problem. I'm guessing it's a bomb once they nix the bathing suits.— Junie (@juniebechillin) June 6, 2018
Mabe said in her competition days, the swimsuit section was about promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle through sustainable and realistic measures that were not harmful. "Today it could mean something completely different, and those are the things competition rules need to be sensitive to."
This is why she believes pageant organisations must align themselves with society's evolution and seek ways to continue being relevant. How this is achieved, however, is up to the organisations themselves.
"Initially, pageants were solely a parade of outer beauty, but have over time evolved to embody more than that. Now we see the empowerment, abilities and contribution of women to society on the pageant platform," commented Mabe — who was an International Relations Masters student at Wits University when she entered Miss SA, and is now, among other things an accomplished public speaker and businesswoman.
A successful day at the announcement of the new Miss SA Top 12. Got me a little nostalgic but I am so proud of our new representatives. Powerful, beautiful, smart, authentic young women.— Boipelo Mabe (@BoipeloMabe) May 3, 2018
Outfit: @ayandaspenstyle pic.twitter.com/wCte4oWuQz
Carlson also suggested that Miss America's move was part of the competition's attempt to shift its emphasis away from comparing women's looks and bodies.
"We can't ignore the beauty standards that have been developed and maintained over the years," added Mabe, "but I believe that no one in this world exclusively owns the definition of beauty."
As to whether or not Miss America's move will inspire other pageants across the world to follow suit, and how this will be received by audiences — we'll just have to wait and see.