MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

Miss America Pageant to see first tattoo on the catwalk

Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail, to reveal her ink during competition

By TVDeeva Deanna Barnert Sep 11, 2013 2:37PM

The Miss America pageant airs Sunday, Sept. 15, but the preliminary competitions started Sept. 9 and one badass beauty is already making news. Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail, is going where no contestant has gone before by refusing to hide her two giant tattoos during the bikini walk. Plus, MSN TV has Vail's Miss America video promo. 

Bing: More about Miss America 2014 | Theresa Vail 


"Why am I choosing to [bare] my tattoos?" Vail said in a recent interview. "My whole platform is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. 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." 


Plus: Meet the 2014 Miss America contestants | Best of basic cable and network television | 50 things you don't know about the Emmys

Kansas Army National Guard Sergeant Vail boasts the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and has the Serenity Prayer running down her entire right side. A newbie to the pageant circuit, Vail is a senior at Kansas State University, majoring in Chinese and chemistry; an expert M16 marksman; a bow hunter; a skydiver; a boxer; a mechanic and former motorcycle racer.


Bullied as a child, Vail found her way through a tough time after a hunting trip with her father, according to the story.


"My passion is empowering girls through male-dominated outdoor sports," she revealed. "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."


Vail got into the pageant game nine months ago, on the suggestion of her commanding officer. When Vail learned 48 hours before the Miss Kansas pageant that she couldn't shoot arrows as a talent, she threw herself into preparing to perform opera -- and managed to win the silver tray in the Miss Kansas pageant!


"I'd never sung opera in my life," Vail said. "I had an appreciation for it and I sang soprano in choir back in high school, but I hadn't sung since then and certainly never opera." 

The 2014 Miss America Competition preliminary contests began Tuesday in Atlantic City and the Vail didn't take a win for her tattooed bikini walk or her talent. Miss New Hampshire, Samantha Russo, was named Talent winner for her vocal performance of "Don't Rain On My Parade"; while Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick, was the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness winner in a black and gold Catalina swimsuit.

That doesn't mean Vail is out of the Miss America game and while she hasn't won anything yet, between her tattoo and her badass story, the sergeant is getting all the press -- and with reason! She sounds like quite a woman. 

During Sunday's broadcast, one Miss American contestant will also be crowned America's Choice. Voting is open through 11:59 pm EST on Sept. 12, 2013. Here's Vail's America's Choice promo

Do you think tattoos should remain taboo at the Miss America Pageant? Weigh in below or on MSN TV's Facebook and Twitter pages. 


Miss America airs live Sunday, Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Oct 12, 2013 9:45PM

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Sep 16, 2013 1:03PM
Good for her! Honestly if she has the courage to be herself while immersed in a world that encourages a very sexist version of femininity, she deserves the support. Being able to succeed in that type of environment with such unnecessary controversy over her appearance shows the true essence of her bravery and femininity. Not to mention she is a part of the United States Military. Congrats Sgt. Theresa Vail!
Sep 16, 2013 11:25AM
Tattoos or body art is not part of the human body. The features she was born with is what she should be most proud of ...not man made decorations...Be proud of who you are and what God gave you...not how much ink you have to distract from other things...very, very tasteless
Sep 15, 2013 7:39PM
Yo.  I bet that if you scaled down the clothing on other contestants this year and past years you will find more tattoos (and piercings).  Who cares, especially this year.  This lady  is serving ng our country.
Sep 15, 2013 7:17PM
How  'bout all you negative people sit down, shut up, and be glad that you and others have the ability to be able to even have a tv to watch, or electricity, to use it, or lights to see at night or have a real bed to sleep in, not having bugs or creepy crawly thing somewhere around. This woman is brave enough to go in the the service and fight for her country, her life and the lives of others, so you bitchy negative boys and girls  can have the cushy things that life offers. I f she wants to enter a Miss America contest with a tat or 2, and show them off in a bikini. Hey more power to her. Not only is it **** and bold she will likely shake up the contestants,  judges and the public,  cause she's apparently  already shaking up morons like you. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. 

Sep 15, 2013 9:13AM
Sep 13, 2013 11:51PM

cheesehead,  guess you have never been wiht a woman that has had a tattoo,  they a special breed, independent and strong will,  just look at her, damn!!!!   Probally sexiest Miss American contestant ever.  hot bod, killer bod and smile, hair incredible, and confidence  plus a tat, damn near perfect



Sep 13, 2013 8:37PM

What happen to her tattoos in the blue bikini? I didn't see them.  Did she get them afterward?  I noticed when I was stationed in Oklahoma lots of girls were getting the seratus anterior tats.  Had not seen that a lot in florida. Some in El Paso with a lot of young Latinas. I was curious if she hid them for the other contest.

Sep 13, 2013 8:31PM

I am active duty and think its great she entered.  However, I am not a fan of the tattoos.  We have tons of soldiers getting out of the military now and they can't get jobs cause of their tats.  I don't see it being attractive and if it is making it way like Kaepernicks tattoos on a QB did last year for a article great.


I do think tattoos should remain taboo.  They are getting ready to throw the hammer down in the military for tattoos.  We have more guys that look like a criminal lineup then a hero lineup.  So if there are those that like great. I am not a fan.   



Sep 13, 2013 7:21PM
Sep 13, 2013 6:35PM
Steve, I hope she save your life one day, see what you have to say then....knob!
Sep 13, 2013 6:31PM
SSG Steve......How about you act like an NCO and shut up! Its just a picture.
Sep 13, 2013 2:28PM

Why are people surprised? It's very rare that when I go somewhere I don't see someone with a tattoo.  Get over it. Also, why do people have to attack her, her religion or anything else about her. What's the point?

Sep 13, 2013 12:22PM
I love her tattoo.  She is a winner in my eyes.  God bless baby.  There is a Higher power in our lives.
Sep 13, 2013 7:29AM

That damn eye makeup makes me want to use some green scrub pads on her face. Gimmick, "Hey look at me I'm a beauty contestant that joined the National Guard and made sure to go into the dental field where I'll be safe and far away from any enemy actions, if I should ever actually leave the United States because of my service. But because I wear a uniform, everyone will call me Brave and say that I'm a hero." Then there are the tattoos, bad choice and ugly, but like the uniform she wears they make a great gimmick to help her gain notoriety.


Make a rule for all beauty pageants, both adult and child pageants:

 "The purpose of a beauty pageant is to measure a person's beauty both physical and mental. In order to measure true physical beauty the use of any makeup or tattoos will be grounds for immediate disqualification. Also, any surgeries performed to alter one's a appearance dermal or dental." Let's see the truth!

Sep 13, 2013 7:10AM
We are neighbors, though we have never met.  I am already a huge fan.  I love the way you are representing my home state (from Junction City, KS) and your service to others.  I have been a fan of pageants my entire life.  Some women train their entire lives for the chance to be in the spot light, some for the right reasons and others not so much.  I appreciate that you are strong, confident and a Godly woman (I assume due to your desire to serve and the Serenity Prayer).  You are the full package and if I had a daughter, I would be proud to have you as a role model.  You have my vote.
Sep 13, 2013 2:18AM

what state voted her the hottest, smartest girl to represent them?....sure hope it wasn't MN.....who tats the drunk prayer on their side and thinks it's a good idea?.....a raccoon?

Sep 13, 2013 1:53AM
Such bravery can only be commended. America should be proud. You Go girl. And it does'nt matter where, just charge.
Sep 13, 2013 1:39AM

What an appropriate contestant for Miss America! A veteran, beautiful and tattoos! It truly disgusts me how people can label women as unintelligent, trashy, have no morals, insecure, etc just because they have tattoos. It's ridiculous how absurd and ignorant you sound. A beautiful woman that once served our country, and all you have to say is she's trash for her tattoos. Take a good hard look at yourselves. News flash: Being a non tattooed person doesn't make you any better.


I commend this woman for breaking the mold of "traditional" beauty. We need more female role models for young women that are different from  the norm.


From one active duty tattooed woman to another, you have my full support!

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