Miss Kansas Theresa Vail is currently in Atlanta, Ga., for the 2013 Miss America Pageant. Vail, senior in chemistry, is participating in the preliminaries that are taking place Sept. 10-12. At the preliminaries Vail will work to solidify her spot for the final competition this Sunday, Sept. 15.
Vail, who said she is no stranger to hard work, was brought up in a military family and, for the past six years, has been an “American soldier”.
“People laugh when I first tell them I served as a mechanic, a grease monkey,” Vail said in her video entry for the Miss America Pageant. “Who would have ever thought that a grease monkey would hold the title of Miss Kansas 2013?”
Hard at work, Vail said she heads for competition with more in mind than the Miss America crown. In her Aug. 22 blog post, on missoutdoorgirl.com, Vail made a statement that during the swimsuit portion of the competition, she will be baring her tattoos with pride.
“God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference,” is tattooed on Vail’s side. Vail also has a much smaller tattoo of the medical military insignia, signifying her sense of duty for her country and the American people.
She said that it is not her intention to cause a spectacle for choosing to bare her tattoos, but only to be true to herself and the role model she has become.
“As I was growing up amidst the bullying and neglect, I found myself asking God on a daily basis to give me peace in knowing I cannot change certain things about myself,” Vail said. “But also asking Him to give me the strength to change things that I had the power to.”
Vail’s tattoos are not only a statement of the struggles she faced in her adolescent years, but also a reminder of how prayer was able help her get through both high school and boot camp.
Vail got the serenity prayer tattoo when she was 20 years old, and said she fully understood the decision she was making. More importantly, Vail said she is using her trials and memories in her decision not to cover up her tattoos during the swimsuit portion of the competition.
“What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink,” she said, stating that her platform is to help break stereotypes, break barriers and, most importantly, to help empower women across the country. “With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can’t do the same?”
Vail said that the title of Miss America is more then what people expect.
“‘She must represent contemporary women between the ages of 17-24,’ is stated in the job description to whomever holds the title of Miss America,” Vail said, noting that the key word is “contemporary,” a synonym for “modern.”
If crowned Miss America, Vail would be pioneering what she and many people sees as a new era of competition for the crown. There is a stereotype surrounding the title of Miss America as being a perfect girl who is devoid of flaws.
What Vail said she wishes to bring to the table is an end of a stigma that girls with visible tattoos have no place in pageant work.
“I am a traditionalist, I am conservative and I am a God-fearing woman,” Vail said. “Having tattoos does not negate any of those [values].”
The title of Miss America comes with many duties, some including traveling for a yearlong speaking tour focusing on the platforms on which the pageant winner ran on. Emphasizing on the importance of truly living up the meaning Miss America, Vail pointed out sections she finds very important in the job description that comes with being Miss America: “She must be comfortable in her own skin” and “She must be true to whom she is as a person.” Vail said she believed she would be falling short in these areas if she decided to cover her tattoos.
“This is 2013. We are not in the dark ages, we are not in the 50s,” Vail said. She said she wishes to open the doors for women around the country who may not fit the stereotypical mold, but who potentially have more to offer the crown. “We are the leading nation for innovation, creativity and progression.”