Miss America’s chairwoman Gretchen Carlson appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday following reports of turmoil within the competition.
Carlson, 52, who won the pageant in 1989, was asked about officials from 22 state pageants signing a petition calling for the resignations of her and President and CEO, Regina Hopper, due to all of the changes being made.
However, she insisted that there’s mainly been a positive reaction and that she’s “so thrilled” with people’s response so far.
As Carlson was asked about their different approach to the pageant, including the axing of the famous swimsuit competition, she replied: “Change is difficult, when I took on this role of leading this organization six months ago, we had a lot of work to do.”
“Swimsuit has been a part of Miss America since it started in 1921, it is tradition,” she explained. “But at the same time, this board unanimously decided that we needed to move this programme forward and we are so thrilled from the people that we have heard from. So many moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and young women have said ‘thank you for making it more inclusive.'”
Carlson, who said she’s determined to make it possible for more young women to get scholarships for college, continued to say she doesn’t believe she’s going “too far, too fast” with the changes.
The former beauty queen shared, “Not at all. This is something that the board had a spirited discussion about. Listen, we want to pay tribute to tradition and we believe that physical appearance and beauty and being fit, that is empowering! We’re just not going to judge women on that anymore.”
Carlson added, “The viewers can learn more about the individual and why they might be the best person for the job.”
The latest Miss America news comes after the current Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers, defended the swimsuit competition during an appearance on “GMA”.
The pageant winner insisted she feels “empowered” when wearing her bathing suit on stage.