The Miss World beauty pageant will no longer feature a swimsuit competition.
The iconic ‘bikini round’, where contestants from around the world pose in swimsuits, has been ditched by the organisers after 63 years.
Miss World’s chairwoman Julia Morley, 74 (wife of it’s British creator Eric) told Elle magazine : “I don’t need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn’t do anything for the woman. And it doesn’t do anything for any of us.
“I don’t care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else’s. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak.”
In 1951, the first Miss World winner, Sweden’s Kiki Håkansson, was crowned on stage while wearing a bikini.
Since then, the swimsuit round has been a major part of the beauty pageant. In 2001, organisers took the decision not to conduct it on stage, but instead do a private photo shoot so contestants no longer had to parade in front of the live audience.
It was renamed the ‘beach fashion’ round and has happened in this way every year since, apart from in 2013 when it was cancelled so as to not offend Muslims in Indonesia, where the pageant was being held.
Feminists, such as the handful protesting outside the pageant’s final in London last week, have previously criticised the swimsuit round for being “sexist” as it objectifies women.
“The organisation has decided to take itself out of the swimsuit world because it isn’t the path they’re trying to take,” Chris Wilmer, the national director of Miss World America and Miss United States organization told ABC News.
“It’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. There didn’t seem to be a purpose to have the swimsuit.
“Miss World should be a spokesperson who can help a community. She’s more of an ambassador, not a beauty queen. It’s more about the outreach and what a woman could do with a title like Miss World.”
In 1979, Miss World introduced the ‘beauty with a purpose’ round, where contestants take part in charity work.
Organisers have emphasised this round as the true point to Miss World, though it also features a fashion round, a talent round and a sports round.
Wilmer suggested that the pageant would now be less of a “bikini show” and more of a “fashion competition.”
But contestants still have to be unmarried and are not allowed to have children, in order to comply with guidelines.
Roz Hardie, chief executive of women’s rights group Object, said: “If there’s a move away from being extremely sexualised that’s positive.”
But she said the pageant was still “problematic” as “it creates an expectation on young women and girls to look a certain way and puts pressures on the body.”
Emily Sawyer, of the London Feminist Network who organised a protest outside the final in London last week, said: “The whole competition is sexist – swimsuits or no swimsuits. Women can be objectified whether they’re in swimsuits or dresses.
“The fact that the organisers have removed the swimsuit round shows that the organisers are reflecting on how women are viewed.
“However it doesn’t change the fact that Miss World is a beauty pageant and that it is a fundamentally sexist institution.”
Miss World 2014, the pageant’s 64th contest took place on December 14 and South Africa’s Rolene Strauss was crowned winner.