Sgt. Theresa Vail is quite the unconventional beauty pageant contestant. Miss Kansas is a not only a soldier, an opera singer, an aspiring army dentist and college senior majoring in Chinese and chemistry, but she also has tattoos — generally a pageant taboo. On Sunday, September 15th, she will become the first Miss America contestant permitted to expose her ink.
During the swimsuit portion of the pageant tonight in Atlantic City, NJ, her two tattoos — one of the Serenity Prayer and another of the U.S. Army Dental Corps insignia — will be visible. She called the Serenity Prayer tattoo her “personal mission statement.”
In addition to her love of tats, we also appreciate how Vail doesn’t like labels. Sure, every beauty pageant contestant tries to portray herself as different, but Vail truly does seem to be “all about breaking stereotypes.” A soldier in a beauty pageant breaks molds in itself, but her wide range of stereotypically male-dominated hobbies like marksmanship, archery, skydiving, and boxing bring it to a whole new level. She aims to empower women and show young girls how to build confidence through sports and is already teaching young girls a whole lot by making the most natural bold move of all — simply being her genuine self, tattoos and all.