“I try to be like my dad, he’s where I get my characteristics and strength,” said Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. She went on to call her father her role model, but she hopes other young women find inspiration in strong females. Based on how people are responding to her participation in the Miss America pageant, it’s almost guaranteed that many will be looking up to Theresa Vail.
Raised as a self-described “military brat,” Vail moved around a lot. She was bullied as a child, and nearly ended her own life at the age of ten. Seven years later she joined the Army. Now she is a sergeant and has recently signed on for six more years of service. Only the second representative of the military to compete in Miss America, Vail has broken quite a few barriers. She was America’s Choice in last weekend’s pageant, which earned her a place in the Top 15 and placed her just outside of the Top 5 overall.
It makes sense that her platform is “Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers.” One of the biggest stereotypes Vail overcame was the thought that Miss America contestants shouldn’t have visible tattoos. Instead of hiding her large tattoos, Vail proudly displayed them.
“I told everyone before I left for Miss America that whether I win the crown or not, if I can change people’s opinion, then I’ve done my job,” she said. Many people’s opinions of Miss America and the women who compete for the title are based on how the contestants look. The focus on body image and self-confidence is something Vail has already encountered while she has been serving as Miss Kansas.
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