June 30, 2016

STATEMENT: Miss Teen USA Drops Swimsuit Competition – Moves Away from Sexual Objectification

Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE

Washington, DC – The Miss Universe organization has announced that Miss Teen USA will no longer feature a swimwear portion. Instead, contestants will model athletic clothing. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) commends this change, and hopes all beauty pageant competitions will follow their lead.

“Miss Teen USA will no longer capitalize on the blatant sexual objectification of teenagers, and that’s something worth celebrating,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “For years, claims by pageant officials that the swimwear portion is meant to assess competitors’ athleticism have fallen flat in the context of a hyper-sexualized culture. Women’s bodies are constantly under scrutiny and overtly sexualized for commercial gain. It’s time to reject the message that the female body is a public sexual commodity. The choice by Miss Teen USA to put 15-19 year-olds in athletic wear, rather than bikinis, is a significant improvement and I hope that the same standards will soon be adopted by all Miss Universe pageants and other competitions.”

“This policy change within Miss Teen USA speaks to the growing awareness that hyper-sexualization adversely affects girls and young women,” Hawkins continued. “As the American Psychological Association has reported, those harms may include body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depressive affect, and physical health problems. Thankfully Miss Teen USA has a taken a step that will not only significantly contribute to the health and wellbeing of its contestants, but to the welfare of girls and women struggling to define their self-worth in a society that reduces a female’s value to pornified sexual appeal.”

“Individuals can get involved in the efforts to combat the normalization of sexual objectification and exploitation by going to DirtyDozenList.com, and taking actions against twelve mainstream facilitators of sexual exploitation,” Hawkins concluded.

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