The Miss Northern Ireland pageant has announced that for the first time in its four-decade history, a swimwear runway will not be part of the grand final.

The beauty pageant, which has been held in Northern Ireland since 1980, announced the decision on Thursday at the launch of the 2023 pageant at the Grand Central Hotel.

The bikini section of the show, which is held each year at the Europa Hotel, has been removed in order to use the competition in a “responsible way” to inspire the next generation of contestants.

Victoria Withers, chief executive of ACA Models, which runs the Miss Northern Ireland pageant, said she was “so excited” to announce the restructuring of the pageant format.

Victoria told The Postedia: “We have decided to remove the bikini section from the final runway section, which will be held at the Gala Final in Europe.

The Miss Northern Ireland finalists today at the Europa Hotel in Belfast ahead of tonight’s gala final

“I feel the focus is on the swimwear segment and it detracts from the real message and meaning of the pageant – amazing young women making a real difference, whether in their day-to-day work with various women.” in STEM, nursing or working with charities is often overlooked.

“While this section has always been voluntary, many of the participants found it empowering and don’t get me wrong, we should all be encouraged to love our bodies and every woman should feel confident and empowered to do so. four, whether in a bikini or other attire.”

She continued, “For me as a new licensee, the aim of this competition is to celebrate the strengths, achievements and aspirations of these young women, and to encourage them to embrace their individuality and confidence through the bikini- remove part of the display, which points a.” new chapter to ensure that the visual elements of the competition project are not only beautiful, but also empowering and inclusive.”

Victoria said at the launch event that there is currently “a lot of pressure in the world” and that it is important for her to be a “positive light” and use the competition responsibly.

She said: “I just believe that the Miss Northern Ireland pageant provides the perfect platform for young women to showcase their talents, intelligence and beauty and inspire the next generation.”

“It’s been a while, but last year I saw it for the first time and I just feel that it shouldn’t be missed. I want the image we put out to be responsible and not just about beauty, but inclusiveness and intelligence.”

New Miss Northern Ireland 2022 Daria Gapska with Poppy Smith and Lucy Johnston, also with Miss World Karolina Bielawska and outgoing Miss Northern Ireland 2021 Anna Leitch

Last year, Ballymena student Daria Gapska was crowned Miss Northern Ireland 2022 at the annual event at the Europa Hotel and will represent the country at Miss World later this year.

She follows in the footsteps of teacher Anna Leitch, who reached the top 6 for the first time in Miss NI history and was also crowned Miss World Europe.

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