Miss Kansas Theresa Vail blew away a stereotype during the Miss America competition Tuesday night in Atlantic City, N.J., by exposing a fairly large tattoo on her midsection during the swimsuit prelims.
The ink on her right side is the Serenity Prayer, and a smaller tattoo on her left shoulder is the insignia of the U.S. Army Dental Corps.
Knowing that she might bring controversy with her body art, Vail posted an advance warning on her blog in August. She said, "I am writing this just weeks away from competing for Miss America because I do not want to shock the nation when I'm seen in a swimsuit, bearing my marks."
The 22-year-old attends Kansas State and is a member of the Kansas Army National Guard's Medical Detachment. She is also an avid bowhunter and an expert marksman.
Showing a great deal of versatility, Theresa is an accomplished opera singer who is performing a piece from Puccini during the talent portion of the competition.
Theresa indicates she grew up "amidst bullying and neglect" and reciting the Serenity Prayer helped her through her teen years and in boot camp. The other ink is a nod to her military training.
Her platform as the reigning Miss Kansas is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. She acknowledged, "What a hypocrite I would be if I cover the ink. I am who I am, tattoos and all."
The Miss America organization has no problem with Vail's decision to show off her ink. A spokesperson acknowledged, "We're all about celebrating individuality."
Check out a photo gallery that includes swimsuit images of Theresa Vail's tattoos below:
Photos: Twitter-Theresa Vail, Facebook-Miss America, Video Screen Grab