Last night in the first round of Miss America preliminaries, Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail showed her tattoos front and center. We're not talking about a small rose on her shoulder blade, or a smiley face on her finger. Her ink includes a "Serenity Prayer" tattoo written in a sizable vintage font that spans her ribs and hip. As a result, Boston.com reported on Sept. 12 that tattoos are a hot topic at the ongoing preliminary competitions.
Showed two tattoos during swimsuit completion
Vail is thought to be the first contestant to reveal ink in a major pageant. She decided not to cover her tattoos in an effort to break the stereotype that women with visible tattoos don't compete in pageants. As she walked onto the stage during the swimsuit portion of the Miss America completion on Tuesday, she revealed two tattoos. The Serenity Prayer on her right side, and the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corp on her left shoulder.
Vail's platform is helping women overcome stereotypes and break barriers, and on her blog last month she wrote: "What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the 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."
Vail comes from a military heritage and she is also a member of the Army National Guard and wants to become a military dentist. She likes to quote Mahatma Gandhi saying, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." When she thinks of the word soldier her definition draws on her personal heritage and experience. Most people think of adjectives like hard worker, sacrifice, determination, strength and selfless servant to describe those who serve in the military. Vail's definition includes that and more personal. For her it means dad, grandpa, uncles, friends, teammates, and herself. For the past six years she has been an American soldier.
People laugh when I tell them I first started serving as a mechanic – a grease monkey. Who would have ever thought a grease monkey would hold the title of Miss Kansas, 2013? – ABC
Vail looks at the role of Miss America as an opportunity to serve others, too. She believes the job of Miss America requires the same traits as being a good soldier and that with her experience as a solider she can set the standard and be a role model to the women of this nation.
The Miss America pageant has moved back to Atlantic City, N.J., after six years. Tune in for the finale this Sunday night.