by MIKE CHAIKEN
ATLANTIC CITY, N.Y. — With the first night of preliminary competition at Miss America on Wednesday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, the world finally got a glimpse of Miss America 2.0.
The Miss America 2.0 branding was implemented following numerous changes enacted this year in how contestants for Miss America compete to secure the crown. Most notably, the organization eliminated the Lifestyle and Fitness competition, i.e. the swimsuit.
During the initial rush of confusion about the changes for this year’s event, evening gowns also seemed to be relegated to the trash heap of history as the organization moved forward to promote a modern woman. But then, in further communiques, contestants and fans were told the “eveningwear” competition wasn’t gone but transformed.
So, the beautiful gowns that audiences had come to expect were still gliding across the stage. But it was a foreshortened glimpse with the iconic circle taken around the stage transformed into a straight as an arrow, “red carpet moment,” down, well, a red carpet. And at the end of the carpet, rather than stepping off the stage silently as in the past, they were stopped and asked what their message to America was… as if being interviewed by the press on a red carpet at a gala event.
The moment was clearly scripted by the contestants. And the content primarily provided a brief summary of their “social impact” statement.
Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei, wearing an up-do and a sparkly primary red gown as she strode to the edge of the stage for her “interview,” said her message to America was: “Women are powerful sources of creativity. As Miss America, I will ignite curiosity, encouraging innovative thinking, and expressive exploration of the world.”
Oei’s social impact statement is “Women in STEM: Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators.”
Tonight, Thursday, Oei competes in the talent phase of Miss America with her Irish stepdance.
The talent phase remains as it was prior to Miss America 2.0.
This is what the first night of contestants wore for evening gowns…
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN