Miss America contestant bares tattoos for first time
Published 11/09/2013 | 08:15
SGT Theresa Vail made history last night as the the first contestant in Miss America pageant's history to show off her tattoos.
Strutting down the catwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey her two giant tattoos were on display - the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder, and the Serenity Prayer running from her bikini bottoms to under her arm.
She told People magazine before the contest: " 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."
Vail, who serves in the US army, is only the second contestant in the military to compete in the pageant.
“Nobody expects a soldier to be a beauty queen,” she said, adding she wants to help empower women by showing them anything is possible.
Vail is also an expert M16 marksman, a bow hunter, a skydiver, a boxer and a mechanic. According to her resume she can speak fluent Chinese, skin a deer and has a great squirrel stew recipe.
The service woman has spoken openly about her experience of being bullied as a child: "I was bullied when I was a kid. It got so bad that I nearly took my own life ... My dad took me hunting with him and it saved my life. Ever since then, I've been an outdoors girl.".
The 24-year-old's goal in life is to "Empower girls through male-dominated outdoor sports."
Also competing last night was Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly, who was born missing half of her left arm.
Miss America will be crowned during the final ceremony on Sunday, September 15.