Only the second contestant in the history of the Miss America Pageant to be in the military, Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail, is breaking down all the stereotypes.
As a younger girl Vail was bullied so much so that she contemplated committing suicide.
“My dad [an Army dentist stationed in Germany] took me hunting with him and it saved my life. Ever since then, I've been an outdoors girl," she says. "My passion is empowering girls through male-dominated outdoor sports."
Her mission is to empower. To break down walls. To create confidence that young girls statistically lose after the 4th grade.
"I want to help them develop confidence, to let them know that they have what it takes to accomplish anything they want to accomplish. I know many young girls look at beauty candidates and think, 'What a perfect life they have.' But I want them to know that I haven't led a perfect life. And that beauty comes from the inside."
So why is she choosing to bear her tattoos? “Reference A; my platform! Empowering women to OVERCOME stereotypes and break barriers. 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? Now, had my platform been something entirely different, maybe the tables would be turned. Maybe. But I am who I am, tattoos and all.”
"Nobody expects a soldier to be a beauty queen," Vail says, "but I'm all about breaking stereotypes."
Sgt. Theresa Vail, we know you are.
Who will be the 2014 Miss America?