Miss America's dumping a longstanding tradition ... scrapping the swimsuit competition because it'll no longer judge contestants on physical appearance.

Ex-FOX News host Gretchen Carlson -- a 1989 Miss America winner herself and the new chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization -- announced the sweeping changes Tuesday morning on 'GMA' ... saying, "We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition."

Instead of the swimsuit competition, contestants will take part in a live interactive session with the judges and will have to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job.

The org is also getting rid of the evening gown portion of the competition.

The competition started nearly a century ago in Atlantic City as a bathing beauty contest. But the organization's gotten push back in the last few years ... many calling the swimsuit contest misogynistic.

The org's is still recovering from an email scandal that rocked Miss America's top brass after the group's former CEO and others insulted the appearance and intellect of former winners, including Carlson.

And with the #MeToo movement serving as a backdrop coupled with Carlson championing the movement ... this seemed like only a matter of time.

John Elliott

John Elliott

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