Athletic wear has replaced swimsuits as part of the 2018 Miss Antioch pageant in a move to de-emphasize physical attributes in the local contest.
"I've been in pageants my whole life and there is no reason for a bathing suit," said Toni Galster, pageant director and special events coordinator for the village's parks and recreation department.
Advertising for applicants for the June 16 pageant was direct.
"Ladies, if you have been thinking about competing in this year's pageant but the swim suit portion of the pageant scares you, do not worry, we have taken it out of our pageant and replaced it with athletic wear," the Facebook post read.
Like other local competitions, Miss Antioch is a feeder to the Miss Lake County State Pageant, which does not have a bathing suit competition, Galster said.
She said the perception is swimsuits can emphasize physical flaws, which shouldn't be part of the competition.
"A lot of these girls feel so awkward," Galster said. "Women come in all sizes," she added. "I want their minds, I want their personalities."
Girls and young women compete in local pageants for scholarships and the opportunity to represent their communities in a variety of events. There is no overreaching authority for the local pageants, which operate independently, so it is unknown how many have gone to athletic wear, according to Galster.
Antioch is not alone in making pageant changes. Last month, organizers of the Miss Septemberfest scholarship competition in Schaumburg announced the decades-old event will change to a Septemberfest Court open to young men and women and boasting five equal winners this year.
Organizers said the change was made to alleviate any perception the event was more pageant than scholarship program.
Rather than five young women wearing dresses and waving from a float in the Septemberfest parade on Labor Day, there will be five young men and women marching the route in their Septemberfest Court golf shirts.
Responses to the Antioch action have been positive, Galster said, including from former Miss Antiochs.
Galster has been competing in pageants since she was 9 and has participated in many contests, including representing Arlington Heights in the Miss Illinois Pageant in 1975 and Wonder Lake in the Mrs. Illinois pageant in 1985.
She assisted in the Miss Antioch competition for seven years before taking the lead this year.
"I just decided" to eliminate swimsuits, she said. "I said no more. Enough is enough."