ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The reigning Miss America says she has been bullied, manipulated and silenced by the pageant’s current leadership, including Gretchen Carlson.

In a letter sent Friday to former Miss Americas, Cara Mund says she decided to speak out despite the risk of punishment.

Her letter is reminiscent of the movie “Mean Girls,” in which characters Gretchen and Regina bully the heroine and make her life miserable. That’s what happened to her in real life, Mund wrote. Gretchen Carlson is chairwoman of the Miss America Organization; Regina Hopper is its CEO.

Her letter exponentially increased the turmoil surrounding the pageant three weeks before the next Miss America is to be crowned in Atlantic City.

“Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future,” Mund wrote. “Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis. After a while, the patterns have clearly emerged, and the sheer accumulation of the disrespect, passive-aggressive behavior, belittlement, and outright exclusion has taken a serious toll.”

Mund said she’s been left out of interviews, not invited to meetings and called the wrong name. When she obliquely hinted at trouble with pageant leadership in an interview earlier this month with The Press of Atlantic City, Mund said she was swiftly punished by having her televised farewell speech cut to 30 seconds, and was told a dress she had been approved to wear in the traditional “show us your shoes” parade cannot be worn.

This year’s competition will not include swimsuits, and pageant officials from at least 19 states have called for the current leadership to resign.

– From news service reports