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When you think of a Miss America contestant, Theresa Vail is not who you picture.

A military sergeant and member of the Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment, Vail is an archery expert, amateur boxer and skydiver, with tattoos.

She’s also Miss Kansas.

“If there is one thing that competing has taught me, it’s that you need to be unapologetically yourself and not let others dictate how you feel,” she wrote on her blog.

Theresa Vail, who is competing in Sunday’s pageant, will not be covering up her tattoos during the competition – a first for any Miss America hopeful.

Vail has tattoos of the Serenity Prayer and a military medical insignia, and she says she decided to display them proudly during the swimsuit round.


“Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos? Reference A; my platform! Empowering women to OVERCOME stereotypes and break barriers,” she writes.

“What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink. With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can’t do the same?”

“I am who I am, tattoos and all.”

Other Theresa Vail fun facts:

  1. She used to race motorcycles, and stopped after breaking all the fingers in her right hand.
  2. She wants to become a dentist.
  3. The student, a Kansas State University senior, is a double major in Chemistry and Chinese, a language in which she is fluent.
  4. She is the second service member to compete for Miss America; 2007 Miss Utah Jill Stevens was a combat medic in Afghanistan.
  5. Her drive to inspire young women comes from her experiences being bullied as a child. “It got so bad that I nearly took my own life,” Vail told People.

Should we just hand her the tiara now?

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