Lufkin pageant queens respond to changes in Miss America rules

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The upcoming Miss America pageants will be different than ever before.

After 97 years the Miss America Organization is saying "bye-bye" to bikinis and "hello" to Miss America 2.0

Tara Watson-Watkins competed in the Miss America Pageant in 2000. She has mixed emotions about the decision because she loved the swimwear segment.

"You know Miss America was founded as a bathing beauty competition, but it has evolved over the years and has become so much more than that," Watson-Watkins said.

Watson-Watkins said the competition has evolved to become more than a beauty contest.

"Most of the girls that have competed in the past and are competing now tell you they don't compete because of swimsuit opportunities," said Watson-Watkins. "They compete because of scholarships and they compete because the crown is a voice to be able to get their message out."

Kassidy Brown has been a part of the pageant system for years.

She currently holds the title of Miss Frisco.

"I think it was time, you know," Brown said.

Brown said with the new changes, contestants will likely devote more time to learning public speaking and doing volunteer work.

"That's what's going to be emphasized on. Not how we look, but what we're doing," said Brown.

But Watson-Watkins believes being physically fit will still be important for contestants.

"I think it just makes you a better-rounded person and I think that when you're physically fit, you're mentally fit," said Watson-Watkins.

The new rules for the Miss America Pageant begin in September.

In place of the swimsuit contest, the contestants will be interviewed live by the judges.

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