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Should Vitiligo Fighters support Miss America’s move to scrap Swimsuit Round?

vitiligo and miss america
Image courtesy: nj.com

Recently, Miss America organization announced that its next edition will scrap swimsuits to be more inclusive to women of all sizes. This means Miss America, which has been synonymous with swimsuits since 1921, will now be a “competition” (not a “pageant”) that will no longer judge contestants based on their physical appearance.

The swimsuit contest will be replaced by a live interactive session with the judges where a contestant will highlight her achievements and goals in life. This session will help her explain how she will use her talents, and ambition to justify the job of Miss America. But the elimination of swimsuits isn’t the only change; the evening gown competition is being revamped as well. All contestants will now be able to wear whatever makes them ‘feel confident’.

Reaction from vitiligo community

Laura Gregory who was bullied at school for vitiligo represented England in the Miss Continental pageant and came in first (2015) | Image: Ross Parry / SWNS

Many women with vitiligo have celebrated the major change and praised Miss America’s move to end the swimsuit competition. Radhika, a vitiligo fighter from Delhi wrote to us in an email, “what a great step in the right direction. We now live in a new world that judges women on their intellect and not their bodies.”

This is a new beginning and a lot is about change. Beauty pageants have drilled rigid beauty ideals into the collective psyche of all of us, generation after generation. Over the years, the swimsuit competition made many contestants physically and mentally vulnerable and left them feeling anguished. “Wearing a bikini could be a liberating act for women, it could never be a measurement of beauty, and cannot be forced on others,” wrote Nancy from New Zealand.

Thankfully, now we’re evolving as a culture. With Miss America’s move to scrap swimsuit round, people of all sizes, with moles or stretch marks, with even skin color or vitiligo, will be welcome or even voted as winners. “As a country, we are now open, inclusive and transparent. You never know someday you might see a girl with vitiligo winning the title”, says Emma, an aspiring model from Houston who has white patches all over her face.

Our Take

While many vitiligo fighters (such as Winnie Harlow, Laura Gregory, Ninu Galot and Amy Deanna) have penetrated in fashion and modeling world, we did not take the right step towards the inclusiveness, which can challenge unrealistic beauty standards within the beauty world as well as in humanity. Unite For Vitiligo is proud of Miss America for ]scrapping swimsuit from the competition and evolving as an organization that looked beyond the perceived notion of beauty. With this move, you can notice a change in beauty world’s carved-in-stone beauty standards, where we are finally ready to meet a winner with some of our more common ‘imperfections.’

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Fast cars, fashion, fitness…that’s what Ninu Galot is about! Oh and I love challenges! What’s driving me right now is making a change about something I’m passionate about and having suffered personally with vitiligo! The last few days in Mumbai has been an eye opener and very emotional. I’ve learnt so much about the stigma attached to Vitiligo. I’m so proud that I’m a British Indian. If I’d been born in india or living there now, no one would have wanted to marry me – because of this skin condition! They wouldn’t have seen me for the person I am but my skin!! And the fact that they think it’s hereditary and that the child i may give birth to might have it makes me unwanted. If someone did decide that they want to be with me then they would find an equal match who’s also got a disability or something wrong with them! Shocking and sick!! Will I be successful in changing people’s way of thinking?… only time will tell. But for now…..failure is never is an option 💪🏾 #berealandloveyourself

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Positive news like this can help many girls with vitiligo embrace their own uniqueness on a global platform. It can help them find beauty and confidence in their skin — no matter what is perceived as “normal.” Miss America’s latest decision is not going to erase almost a century of brainwashing on beauty standards immediately, but it is indeed a great start.

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