Miss Kansas - Groundbreaking Miss America Contestant

From People magazine today:

The Miss America Pageant won't know what hit it when it lays eyes on Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail. 

Once the competition's preliminaries begin in Atlantic City, N.J., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, Vail will be the second contestant in the military to compete (Miss Utah 2007 was a combat medic in the Army National Guard). 

But when she struts down Boardwalk Hall in her bikini, she'll be breaking a long-standing taboo with her two giant tattoos – the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and the Serenity Prayer running down her right side. 

"Why am I choosing to bare 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." 

She's also an expert M16 marksman, a bow hunter, a skydiver, a boxer and a mechanic. She finally had to stop motorcycle racing after breaking all the fingers in her right hand – a potential stumbling block, she decided, to reaching her goal of becoming an Army dentist. She can skin a deer, she has a great squirrel stew recipe (it features sauerkraut) and, one day, she hopes to hunt bear with her bow and arrow. 

I never paid much attention to the Miss America contest until I had the opportunity to work with Kim Dugger Attwater (former Miss Kansas) and Cat Taylor Morsberger (Miss Kansas first runner up). Both are amazing, talented women. In conversations and via their introductions, I met other current and former contestants -- wow. My attitude changed; I now greatly respect the goals of the Miss America organization.

The story excerpted above is about the current Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail. Theresa is a student at Kansas State University and a member of the U.S. Army (Ft. Riley is near KSU). Here is her pageant video which you will find interesting to watch and quite impressive. If you wish to vote for her (the popular vote winner is automatically in the semi-finals), go here.

Some of the commenters on the People article wondered what she looked like without as much makeup. You see that in the video, plus I'm a Facebook friend and here are two photos.

The pageant is Sunday evening on ABC.

UPDATES: Here is Theresa in the swimsuit preliminary this evening. You can see one of her tattoos.


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