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MAN STUFF: Miss Kansas, the tattooed Army sergeant with a wicked recipe for squirrels and a mission to empower women

She is an expert marksman, hunts with a bow and arrow and can skin a deer, but now Sergeant Theresa Vail has a new mission.

On Tuesday she became the second servicewoman to compete in the Miss America pageant, in a move the 22-year-old says she hopes will empower women.

As well as being the second Army recruit to take part in the Miss America contest, Sergeant Vail also broke down barriers by having her tattoos on show during the bikini round.

The competition’s preliminary rounds are currently taking in place in Atlantic City, where Sergeant Vail is strutting her stuff against 52 other competitors.

She told People her desire to empower women by encouraging them to be themselves was behind her reason for baring her tattoos – the insignia for the Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder, and the Serenity Prayer running down her right side.

‘My whole platform is empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers,’ the 22-year-old, who wants to become an Army dentist, said.

‘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.’

Nine months ago Sergeant Vail had never considered entering a beauty contest, but her commanding officer encouraged her to take part, saying she would be an ideal role model.


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