It seems as though the days of cliche clean cut pageant entrants may finally be coming to an end. The latest in pageantry seems to follow suit with the more recent changes to society as a whole.
Theresa Vail, aka Miss Kansas, has broken barriers of what is acceptable in the Miss America beauty pageant; she fearlessly dons her tattoos, and is not ashamed to speak of her dark past. Vail, so she explains, is on a mission to represent reality, to use a pageant to be an inspiration, and to show women thats that it is okay to be yourself, to be unique, and to be fearless of your own past. Being open, she suggests, is absolutely beautiful.
Miss Kansas is certainly the unconventional pageant contestant. At the young age of 22, the beautiful blonde not only has dealt with an unfortunate, painful past of being bullied to the extent of contemplating suicide, but she also is enlisted in the Army. The tattoos she showed off during the pageant are expressions of the trials and tests that she had been through in her life thus far. The serenity prayer, now tattooed to her side, is what helped her fight through the hard times of bin bullied relentlessly and the subsequent depression that arose from that experience. The prayer, she says, helped her see the light in a future for herself. The most recent tattoo, the dental insignia from the Army, now has a permanent place on her left shoulder blade. The ink represents another not so common part of her past, and this year, she became the first pageant contestant to actually show it off.
"We all face challenges in society," Vail says. "We're placed under certain convictions and we feel we have to stay under tham and I want people to know, it doesn't matter what society says. It doesn't matter what the 'rules' say. You can do whatever you want, whatever you set your mind to. That's what I did when I showed my tattoos."