The Miss America Pageant will air on Sunday, September 15 at 9 PM ET on ABC, but the preliminary action is already underway in Atlantic City. However, all that anyone seems to be talking about is Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, who isn’t exactly the typical pageant girl when held up against the stereotypes. For starters, she’s just the second service member to hit the main stage at the Miss America competition – Miss Utah 2007 Jill Stevens was the first – but much more unique is the fact that her tattoos won’t be covered.
Vail actually has two tattoos that will be visible throughout the Miss America events, as she has the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on one shoulder and the entire Serenity Prayer inked on the right side of her torso.
“Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos?” Vail says. “My whole platform is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. What a hypocrite I would be if I covered my ink. How can I tell other women to be fearless and true to themselves if I can’t do the same? I am who I am, tattoos and all.” (Via People)
(A much clearer image is available here.)
On top of that, she used to race motorcycles until she broke the fingers on her right hand, and she was originally going to show off her archery skills as her talent, but that’s not exactly allowed. So for that whole talent competition, she went ahead and taught herself how to sing opera. It all makes perfect sense for a woman whose purpose in pageants is to help influence other girls through empowerment.
“I was bullied when I was a kid. It got so bad that I nearly took my own life … My dad [an Army dentist stationed in Germany] took me hunting with him and it saved my life. Ever since then, I’ve been an outdoors girl,” she says. “My passion is empowering girls through male-dominated outdoor sports.”
She adds, “I want to help them develop confidence, to let them know that they have what it takes to accomplish anything they want to accomplish. I know many young girls look at beauty candidates and think, ‘What a perfect life they have.’ But I want them to know that I haven’t led a perfect life. And that beauty comes from the inside.”
She has my vote.
(Images via the Miss Kansas Facebook page.)