New honoree of the Miss America title, Camille Schrier, just won on Thursday but is now admitting that she wouldn't have even competed unless the swimsuit portion of the competition was eliminated. The scientist from Virginia has battled with an eating disorder in the past and felt she shouldn't be judged based on her body image saying "the number of abs I have" doesn't define how healthy she is as a person. Along with her thoughts on women struggling with body image issues these days, she felt it was best not to put herself in a situation where she might feel shamed for her body type rather than empowered.
"I think that a lot of women in our world really struggle with body image and have had things that might qualify as an eating disorder and they might not even recognize it. And as someone who has struggled with body image and body positivity throughout my life, I didn't ever want to put myself in a situation to be judged on my body," she told PEOPLE before adding, "I don't think that the number of abs I have necessarily defined how healthy I am."
The Miss America Organization is now run by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, and because of her, the swimsuit portion of the competition has been scrapped. Last summer, Carlson wanted the Miss America Pageant to focus more on empowering young women rather than making them feel judged on their body type.
"I think that being able to focus more on what I have to offer with my confidence and my public speaking and my intelligence is a lot more meaningful to me, and something that I wanted to focus on," Schrier said. "And so I just chose not to compete until that was gone."
Miss America felt that without the bathing suit competition, she was able to narrow in on her intelligence more as a PharmD student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy. As a result, she not only won, but she earned $300,000 in scholarship money, as well as, the honor to represent the organization for the next year until the crown is passed on.
Celebrities like Kelly Rowland, Karamo Brown and Lauren Ash helped on the judges panel this year, while Mario Lopez and Kit Hoover hosted. The annual competition is held at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut.