Miss Teen USA drops bikini segment of pageant

Shortly after Miss America got its first out gay contestant, the Miss Teen USA pageant has axed the swimsuit portion of its proceedings.

The organisers of the pageant, Miss University, said to USA Today that the 15 to 19-year-old participants will be asked to model sportswear instead of bikinis.

The aim of the change, according to Paula Shugart, the president of Miss Universe, is to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty.”

“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,” she added.

Meanwhile the Miss America pageant, which is entirely separate from Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe, got its first ever out gay competitor.

Erin O’Flaherty was crowned at the pageant in the city of Mexico, Missouri last Saturday.

Anne Jolly, the chairman of the board of the Miss Missouri Scholarship Organisation told the Associated Press that the 23-year-old clothes shop owner was the first out lesbian to be crowned.

A self-described ‘Catholic Arab’ earlier in 2016 won the first ever Miss Trans Star pageant in Israel.

Campaigners earlier this year criticised a transgender beauty pageant which offers the winner gender reassignment surgery.

The Miss Gay and Ms Transsexual Australia 2016 pageant was branded “irresponsible” by campaigners.

A finalist in the Miss Galaxy beauty pageant contest also in January spoke out – to claim she was disqualified for being trans.

29-year-old Jossy Yendall says she was elated to find out that she had made it through to the final of the UK competition.

However, she told ITV she was shocked to be told by organisers that she had been dropped from the contest because she’s not ‘biologically’ female.

The winner of the Miss Transgender UK pageant was last month stripped of her crown for not being “full-time” transgender, the organiser has claimed.

The pageant launched for the first time last year – but attracted controversy for offering all-expenses-paid gender reassignment surgery in India as a ‘prize’.

Scottish trans woman Jai Dara Latto was initially named the winner of the contest – but organiser Rachael Bailey hit out at her this week, amid coverage of Ms Latto going on a charity hike.