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Local Miss America Preliminaries React to Sweeping Organization Changes

Bye bye, bikini!

The Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization announced todaygroundbreaking changes for the 2019 Miss America Competition by declaring the 51 women representing their home states and the District of Columbia will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance.

“We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment” said Gretchen Carlson, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

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"We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement,” Carlson said.

Paige Geer and Chloe Anagnos, local directors of the Miss Spirit of Indiana and Miss Heart of the Midwest Scholarship Pageants – preliminary competitions to Miss Indiana and Miss America – are excited about the changes.

"Being a scholarship program, we have always stressed to our titleholders that it's their drive, whit, and passion that truly matter in this kind of competition – not what five people think about how they model a swimsuit,” Geer said.

In place of the swimsuit competition, each candidate will participate in a live interactive session with the judges, where she will highlight her achievements and goals in life.

“We are extremely excited about seeing these changes at the national level and are ready to hit the ground running to adjust our programs at the local level to reflect the new mission of the Miss America Organization,” Anagnos said.

Miss America’s new mission statement is: “To prepare great women for the world, and to prepare the world for great women.”

Founded in 2016 and 2018, respectively, the Miss Spirit of Indiana and Miss Heart of the Midwest Scholarship programs see local Hoosier women compete for the chance to represent the title and advance to the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant every June.

This past February, 22 young women competed in these preliminaries and more than $1,500 was awarded in scholarships and prizes.

“We’re a younger program, but we’re growing rapidly,” Anagnos said.

“I see this change at the national level as a way for us to reach young women in the community who otherwise wouldn’t have had an interest,” she continued.

Both agree that although change can be scary, this is a huge opportunity to empower women of all backgrounds and give them the resources to reach their fullest potential.

The current Miss Spirit of Indiana, Paige Harder, is a Taylor University student who uses the title to advocate for her platform: “Get Up and Move! Overcoming Inactive Lifestyles.” The exercise science senior teaches fitness classes to people of all ages and encourages them to be their best selves.

Jessica Hopper, the current Miss Heart of the Midwest, uses her platform to advocate for safe homes for foster children. The Anderson University graduate recently spoke to the Indiana Statehouse about her personal story and the importance of preventing child abuse.

Both young women will represent Central Indiana at the Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant in Zionsville, June 10-16, 2018. Preliminary competition will be held Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with Finals on Saturday, June 16.

The mission of the Miss Spirit of Indiana and Miss Heart of the Midwest programs is to advocate for women’s education, provide scholarship assistance, and support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Their next competition will take place February 2019.