Thursday, September 12, 2013
Miss Kansas is the first contestant in the Miss America competition to expose two large tattoos.
"It's not about the tattoos. It's about showing that the Miss America Organization embraces individuality. They embrace diversity. They came out and said they support what I'm doing," said Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas 2013.
The 22-year-old senior at Kansas State University is also a sergeant in the Kansas Army National Guard. Her platform is to empower women to overcome stereotypes and break down barriers.
"I chose to hide them at state, just because I was new to the system and I did fall under the belief that girls with tattoos would never win," said Vail. "Once I did win, I prayed about it. I prayed over and over and I knew that God wanted me to show them."
Vail said the Serenity Prayer, tattooed on the right side of her body, helped her to overcome the bullying she experienced in her youth. The second tattoo, the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, pays tribute to her father who was a dentist for 33 years and helped influence her decision to someday become a dentist in the military.
The board members of the Miss Kansas Foundation are behind Vail's decision to expose the tattoos.
"Whether you're pro tattoo or anti tattoo, for her it has significant meaning and the only time that it shows is really during swimsuit competition. Again, we support her in her decision to not cover it," said Susan Franz Kowlowsky, board member.
Miss Kansas is pursuing a double major in Chemistry and Chinese, and is also an expert marksman on the M-16 rifle.
"Miss America win or lose, I know that I'm making a difference as it is. I'm changing people's perceptions," said Vail.
Miss America finale will be televised on KAKE-TV, Sunday at 8 p.m.
To help Miss Kansas win a spot in the Miss America finals, you can vote for her video, by clicking here.