Author: Theresa Marie Vail

Flashback : So Long 2013

It goes without saying that this year has been the most fruitful! I have been blessed beyond words and have had opportunities unlike any other. Let’s take a look at how 2013 went…

My life changed the first week of June when I won the title of Miss Kansas. I still am in disbelief at how the months have gone by so quickly!

MA13

Three short months later I competed for the title of Miss America. I made international headlines everywhere by daring to be different; showing my tattoos, promoting the military and the outdoors, and standing up for my beliefs. Almost 500,000 people watched my YouTube video on why I should be Miss America, winning me the “America’s Choice” award. I placed in the top 10. The experience of those 2 weeks I spent competing for the title will never be forgotten. I made a great friend in Miss Nevada, I challenged the norm, and America was so receptive and willing to listen to my message. Thank you, America!!!

Diana

The months after Miss America have been incredibly busy. I speak to schools about bullying on a weekly basis, and I speak to other organizations about my personal platform; empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. Women face so many stereotypes that we may not even be aware of, which only aids in perpetuating them. My goal is to inform, educate and empower.

Since my love and passion for the outdoors became well known at Miss America, the months following have also been busy with “unusual” bookings for a Miss Kansas. I have attended the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt, I have taught girl scout troops how to shoot a bow, I have been a part of the Kansas BOW (Becoming an Outdoorswoman) event, I have traveled to Georgia to speak for the Concerned Veterans of America group, and so much more!

Hunting

The last event of 2013 had to have been the greatest moment of my year. Given my very busybusy schedule, I had not been able to go hunting all season. The incredible staff at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism understood what a passion it is for me, so they lined up a hunt with JB Outfitters in Pratt, Kansas. The outfitters asked that David Blanton, a hunting TV show personality for Realtree Outdoors, come film my hunt.

The three long, cold days of being in a tree stand with Mr. Blanton exceeded all expectations. He is the type of person that makes you want to be closer to God. He makes you want to be a better Christian. When I was around him, I could literally feel the Holy Spirit. I am so blessed to have gotten to know him, and honored to call him a friend. Thank you, David for sharing with me your testimony.Hunting1

In the last hour of the last day, I harvested a warrior; an old, mature, rough-looking buck. Godtested my patience waiting for this guy! It was 20 degrees all three days, it snowed on the second day, and on the third day the wind just wasn’t cooperating with us. But, good things come to those who wait, right?

The hunt would not have been the same without the help of Bear Archery and Realtree. A week before the hunt, Bear sent me a brand new bow—the Venue. It shoots like a dream (and has no pink on it…you guys know I hate pink camo)! Realtree ensured that I was outfitted properly for a cold-weather hunt. Thank you, both!

So what does 2014 have in store? I have 6 months left of my Miss Kansas reign before I’m forced to decide my path. I have been blessed with so many opportunities that I could go many different ways; having a TV show, working for Realtree, being a professional spokesperson, etc. I pray that I make the right decision in due time.

Whatever I decide to do, I know that I will not lose sight of my cause. I will continue to speak to women, empowering and challenging them to step outside of their comfort zones. I pray that God continues to use me as His servant, working through me to reach others. I am here to serve.

On a final, lighter note, I am on day 11 of a successful new year’s resolution! This year I needed more of a physical challenge. I wanted to take my body and its level of health and fitness to a new level. I decided to try the paleo diet. The paleo diet asks people to follow a diet similar to those who lived 10,000 years ago, essentially eating like hunters and gatherers. This diet is high in protein and produce. Now, make no mistake, I am NOT doing this to lose weight—I am doing this as a lifestyle change. I want my body to be in peak condition, physically and physiologically. How can I truly know the capabilities of my body if I’ve been polluting it with processed foods for 23 years?
The paleo diet was recently ranked last on the U.S. News and World report for being the worst diet. Why? Not because it is unhealthy…but because it was too restrictive for most people to actually follow. In other words…it’s a challenge! Right up my alley.
In the 11 days that I have gone paleo, I have never been so full of energy. I have never slept better (I’ve suffered from insomnia for many years), and I have never been so focused. Countless studies show how certain additives in processed foods yield ADD/ADHD behavioral effects. Well, problem solved; eat only natural foods!
I will continue to update you all on my journey through this challenge, through pictures and posts. I have a feeling it’s going to get difficult!

For those of you who have supported me through 2013, I thank you and I pray you’ll continue to support me through the events of 2014. What I have accomplished would not have been possible without my sponsors, my supporters and my fans. God bless you all!

-Theresa

Miss America

It was only 3 weeks ago that we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King spoke out against racism and inequality. He fought for freedom and justice. One of the most famous quotes of his, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Have we really progressed as a nation? Have we overcome the obstacles of injustice and racism? Have we lived up to what Dr. King envisioned? Evidently not, because it is 2013 and Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, is receiving racist backlash for her heritage.

Nina Davuluri, Miss NY 2013

This outstanding woman has broken so many barriers. She is the first AMERICAN of Indian descent to win the prestigious title of Miss America. She is the first contestant to bring bollywood (a form of dance) to national television. She embodies her platform to the fullest; embracing cultural diversity.

Most of you are familiar with my own platform; Empowering women to overcome stereotypes and break barriers. Well, Nina is doing just that. As her friend, as a titleholder, and as a leader, I give her my support. Nina, if you’re reading this, I leave you with a fitting verse; “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.”

To my own fans; you supported me for breaking so many barriers and I ask that you now do the same for the reigning Miss America.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,”

-Miss Kansas…

God, Grant Me the Courage to Change the Things I Can

The title of this post is a line from the sacred Serenity Prayer. It is my personal mission statement for life, a constant reminder of how to choose to live. “God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.” It is also tattooed on my side…

I am writing this post 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. I want to explain the meanings and reasons behind them, and why I am opting to show them proudly.

I mentioned the first of two, the serenity prayer. As I was growing up amidst the bullying and neglect, I found myself asking God on a daily basis to give me peace in knowing I cannot change certain things about myself, but also asking Him to give me the strength to change things that I had the power to. Praying to Him for these characteristics got me through my adolescent years, high school and boot camp. When I was 20 years old, I knew I wanted to always be reminded of my past and its connection to this prayer. Thus, I chose to have it tattooed onto my body. I have no regrets.

The second is the military medical insignia. Though much smaller than the prayer, the significance is just as great. Since I was a child, God placed a strong passion for service into my heart. Service to my Country, and service to people through medicine. In the middle of this symbol is the letter “D” to represent my dad, whose influence was paramount in choosing this career path.

As you might have noticed, I did not mention dragons, flowers, hearts or other frivolous items as one of my tattoos. I am a firm believer that lengthy and conscious thought should be given before getting “inked.” I am also firmly against (personally) getting a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo. All too often I run into individuals that have no rhyme or reason for the choice they made, other than “I just wanted one.” Most likely they will regret their decision after a few years.

So, down to the reason for this blog. Why am I choosing to bear my 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.

Now, many still believe that Miss America is apple pie and pearls. However, in the job description of Miss America it clearly states that “she must represent contemporary women between the ages of 17-24.” The operative word here is “contemporary,” synonymous with modern! 1 in 5 Americans have at least 1 tattoo. If I were crowned Miss America, bearing my tattoos, do you realize the stereotypes and stigmas it would break? Do you realize it would pave a path for a whole new audience to compete in the Miss America Organization? As of right now, the stigma is girls with visible tattoos do not compete in pageants, and certainly do not win. I want to break that. I am a traditionalist, I am conservative and I am a God-fearing woman. Having tattoos does not negate any of those. Think about it.

Two more phrases catch my attention in the job description of Miss America. “She must be comfortable in her own skin” and “She must be true to whom she is as a person.” If I covered my tattoos, would I be fulfilling any of those requirements? No. I would be doing a disservice to myself and to those who have found me to be a role model.

Should I win Miss America because I have tattoos? Of course not. BUT, I shouldn’t be discredited for having them either. This is 2013. We are not in the dark-ages, we are not in the 50′s. We are the leading nation for innovation, creativity and progression. When I dress for work everyday, I act like a professional and I look like a professional. YOU do not know that I have tattoos unlessI want you to.

If I don’t win the title of Miss America, I can only hope I have changed peoples perceptions of the type of women that choose to compete for it. God, Grant me the Courage to Change the Things I Can…

On a final note, I’d like to discuss my military service. It has been documented in writing that if I win Miss America, my obligations and responsibilities will be given to the crown. The military has been my number 1 supporter through all of this since they, too, believe in pursuing personal and professional goals. It’s not bad recruiting for them either ;)

If you haven’t already, PLEASE go vote for my video at www.missamerica.org/videocontest to solidify my spot in the top 15! That is the only way you’ll see me on the final night! Watch on Sunday, September 15th at 9 pm EST on ABC. I will also be featured in ABC’s 20/20 the hour leading up to the final event. So tune in!

God Bless

-Miss Kansas…

Winning The Crown

It was the last few minutes of the pageant, names were being called from the top 10, announcing 4th runner up…3rd runner up…I’m nearly on the verge of hyperventilating, in disbelief that my name hadn’t been called yet. Then it happened, the moment that is now a blur. “And the new Miss Kansas 2013 is……contestant number 12! Theresa Vail!!”
This is the moment that my life will have changed forever.

Many of you that have been following me and the news know everything there is to know about my surface. So for this post, I would really like to share my experiences and thoughts on the actual pageant week.

Before I met all the women that I competed against, I held many preconceived notions about the types of girls that do this sort of thing. I was told to watch my back, lock up my clothes and heels, and not to trust anyone. Boy, was I blown away by the truth.

The 24 women that I had the pleasure of competing with are the most selfless and sweet women that I have had the honor of getting to know. I went there with my guard up, and left with my vulnerabilities in the air. I would not have won without the support of my fellow contestants.
3

For the same reason I love the military, I love the pageant system. It is a sisterhood, an unbreakable bond. Every assumption I held against these women were abolished the minute I got to know each and every single one of them. I am ashamed to say I held these judgements to begin with.

I spent a week with these women, and I have already made life-long friends. I connect with each of them in different ways, each having their own unique and special characteristics.

There was not one moment that I felt like I was being judged. It touched my heart when they came to me for advice, when my roommate and I had late-

night heart-to-heart talks, when all the girls tried helping me on my less than desirable dance moves. They accepted me for my flaws and imperfections.

If like me, you hold/held judgements against pageant girls, I ask that you reserve those judgements until after you meet one. They will change your life forever.

1

To the Miss Kansas Class of 2013, I thank you and I love you.

Remember that you can go to my “SHOP” link and purchase a custom Miss Outdoor Girl t-shirt. ALL proceeds go towards supporting the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the national platform for Miss America.

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl