(WTOL) - Big changes are coming for the Miss America Pageant.
In fact, the board of directors is no longer calling it a pageant, but rather a competition.
After 97 years, the organization is saying "bye bye bikini," scrapping the swimsuit portion altogether.
Candidates will no longer be judged on their outward physical appearance.
Instead, they will focus on their achievements and goals. The organization says it's aiming to be more inclusive to women of all shapes and sizes.
"My newsfeed has been blowing up today with all of this debate," said pageant competitor and coach, Katie Maskey.
She said that part of that debate is over the tradition of the Miss America pageant.
The swimwear and evening gown staples may be hard for some part with.
"Change is hard. Change is good," Maskey said.
Maskey said that she is a little worried about ratings down the line, but hopefully these changes will bring out what pageantry is really all about.
"It's about growth and personal development, giving back to your community, which is my favorite part about coaching pageants. It's about watching girls, no matter what age they are, 5 or 55, watching them grow within themselves and grow in confidence," Maskey said.
The changes come as young women are currently preparing for qualifying pageants.
BGSU student Courtney Storey will still compete in swimwear and evening gown in the Miss Ohio pageant next week.
"It is very overwhelming and a lot to take in that the entire competition is about to be changed. Ever since your prelim to your state pageant, you spend hours and all this time training in the areas of competition that are given," Storey said.
Storey agreed with Maskey that change is hard, but it can be good.
She said that she hopes there will be a greater focus on scholarships provided by the Miss America Organization, which has helped her pay for school, and how pageants can positively shape participants.
"And us developing into empowering women, confident women, and with the change, I think it will really target that path that they want us to go in," Storey said.