Just when Like fifty years after you thought the Miss America Pageant had had its run, you find a contestant who does something fresh and new. Sgt. Theresa Vail is an expert M16 marksman, an aspiring Army dentist, a mechanic, a boxer, a skydiver and an archer. She’s not only all these things and the second Miss America contestant who’s been in the military, she’s also competing tonight in the pageant as the first visibly tattooed one ever. In short: she’s a total badass.
Vail, crowned Miss Kansas earlier this year, has two tattoos: insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps and the Serenity Prayer vertically placed on her right side. She is outspoken in her refusal to cover these up:
“Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos? 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.”
Obviously, pageants are still kind of silly in their own way in addition to reinforcing the ideals of female beauty as a quantifiable concept, but I think that just having a woman — albeit a conventionally attractive one — be able to compete regardless of her body modifications is at least a step in the right direction, provided you believe the “right direction” includes non-conventional physical attributes.
Vail feels pushing boundaries is a positive thing:
“Nobody expects a soldier to be a beauty queen, but I’m all about breaking stereotypes.”
Regardless of whether you think Theresa Vail is doing anything particularly progressive, it’s hard to deny that the woman is different than most contestants, and that alone makes this a more interesting story than most years.
Photos: Sgt. Theresa Vail’s Facebook.