Salt Lake Tribune: ‘Empowering’ or ‘exploitative’ — Miss Utah contestants strut in bikinis and high heels one last time

In the wings of the Capitol Theater, Miss Utah contestants rehearse turns and drop to the floor for some last-minute pushups in the seconds before they strut onstage in bikinis, stilettos and something called “butt tape.”

“Who all stumbles on their pivot?” one contestant calls out, eliciting only nervous mumbles from the 18 women who are waiting to have their bodies scored for the last time in this pageant.

It is the final year for the swimsuit competition in the Miss Utah pageant — and when the winner crowned Saturday goes to Atlantic City this fall for the Miss America competition, she can leave her neon-colored bikini at home.

Miss America organizers announced this month that the swimsuit event would be eliminated and the evening gown competition will now allow contestants to wear whatever “makes them feel confident, expresses their personal style, and shows how they hope to advance the role of Miss America.”

But at state pageants, like the one this week in Salt Lake City, swimsuit and evening gown competitions are going on as planned for one last year — and the 54 contestants have mixed feelings about taking to the stage in a napkin’s worth of fabric to be given points for “fitness.”

Continue reading at The Salt Lake Tribune.