JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With the elimination of the swimwear competition, many of the 45 candidates at Miss Mississippi say they understand the decision. Some of them also say it was never about beauty, it was about much more, including discipline, hard work and health.
Swimwear was a favorite for many of those who follow Miss Mississippi and Miss America. Critics say it minimizes women and excludes young women who want to compete. We talked with several contestants about swimwear and their opinions on whether it should be included in competition.
Charley Ann Nix said, “I’m gonna miss that part of competition but in the end I know that you’re Miss Mississippi... she doesn’t really walk around in a swimsuit very often.”
Rachel Shumaker said, “I love the swimsuit competition. I have never been in better health than when I was preparing for the swimsuit competition. But, at the same time, I’m okay with it because I’ve already established that healthy lifestyle.”
Dana Wesley added, “We hold up this country and so with the rebranding - now with Miss America 2.0 - we know that women are capable and we showcase it every day.”
Now that swimwear has been eliminated, when Preliminary Competition begins Wednesday night winners will be announced in Talent and Evening Wear.
Macy Mitchell said, “Anytime, you know, in a large company someone in charge makes a decision that maybe you don’t necessarily agree with, you still have to respect the decision that they made because they know what’s in the best interest of the company, just as our leaders know what’s in the best interest of the Miss America organization.”
Molly May said, "I understand the importance of swimsuit. I think it's especially, someone with a breast cancer background as mine, I understand the value in living a healthy lifestyle and exercising and eating healthy foods, but at the same time, I genuinely believe that you will not find my ability to be a good Miss Mississippi in my waistline."
The 45 contestants have been separated into three different groups. Among the first candidates to compete in talent Wednesday night, Miss Dixie, Molly May and Miss Pride of the South Charity Lockridge. They tied for a win in preliminary talent last year.