Author: Theresa Marie Vail

Memorial Day and My Journey to Miss Kansas

What is Memorial Day? I know many of you believe it’s that weekend you get to spend at the lake drinking beer. Or the weekend you get to hang out with friends and family, partying it up. But those are merely the activities you partake in to celebrate what this Holiday is all about. Memorial Day is a day to remember our fallen soldiers; those that fought and died for our freedom and rights. We do not celebrate their death, but we rejoice in the legacy they left behind. While you’re out there on the lake, or celebrating at the bars, remember that you’re able to do those things because selfless men and women fought for you and your families.

I have served my state and my Country for 6 years. I may not be on the front lines of war but I wear my uniform with unmistakable pride. I yearn for the day that I get to deploy and serve my Country to the fullest potential. I may not like where the government is headed, I may not agree with the presidency. But I don’t serve either of those. I serve YOU and the United States of America. Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day. Thank a soldier for their service!

              

After 14 weeks

And now to tell you about my journey throughout the past 5 months. In such a short amount of time I have changed dramatically. Not just physically, but in my way of thinking. If there is one thing that competing has taught me, it’s that you need to be unapologetically yourself and not let others dictate how you feel. I will be the first to admit that I cared about what others thought of me. I let their words get to me and it brought me down. I started second-guessing myself, asking myself if this is really what I wanted to do. I hit a low point…and then I grew up.

After tirelessly worrying about what other girls were thinking about me, I realized that I am the best version of me possible. I am a compassionate person, a selfless person and an all-around kind-hearted girl. There will always be people who don’t like you because they don’t know you, and people who don’t know you because they don’t like you. And there is nothing you can do about it except put your big girl panties on and keep moving. I AM unapologetically ME.

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The biggest improvement is in my legs. I finally have shape and definition to them!

So as for the physical improvement, I have managed to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 5 months. WOW! I have always been naturally slender so to see muscle on my body was a huge achievement for me. Now, many will tell you that physical fitness is not important to winning a pageant. While this may hold some truth, I am not going to undermine the value of a fit body. How can you be a role-model if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle? If you’re binge-eating because you can or getting drunk on weekends?

In 2 weeks, win or lose, I will know that I put every ounce of discipline I had into it. Just from that, I will walk away knowing I am a winner. I still have a long way to go in terms of fitness and building muscle, but I am surely on the right path.

If you guys have any questions or comments, please don’t be afraid to ask! I will update you all in 2 weeks after the results of Miss Kansas! Have a beer for me!

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl…

Body Image and Ideals

During one of my gym sessions a few days ago I stopped in front of the full length mirror and did something that I hate to admit; I looked at myself in disapproval. There I stood, nit-picking all of my so-called faults. “Trim up your legs, Theresa. Geez, I have man-sized traps. You could be a bit leaner, Theresa.” My subconscious was taking over, and there was nothing I could do about it.

  Attractive? More like unhealthy.

Attractive? More like unhealthy.

 

Now, for those of you who know me or have seen me, you know that I take care of my body. I’m in the gym daily and I eat clean. So you’re asking yourself why I’m thinking these things about my body. Well, I suppose there are two reasons. The first being societal pressure. We’ve been raised in a society that, for so long, has constructed these women in the media to be the pinnacle of perfection. These slender, desirable bodies. Since I was just a small girl I believed I was suppose to look like that, and sadly that mentality is hard to shake after living it for years on end. The second reason, I may be slightly obsessed with the idea of perfection. In every aspect of my life I consider myself a perfectionist. My hair must always be done. I won’t dare be caught wearing sweatpants. I will always look presentable. My house must be clean….you get the gist. I’m like a robot! The funny thing is, no one else in my family is like this. So where did I get it? Again, society is to blame. As a child I envied those girls in magazines.

I have come a long way since then but like every girl I still struggle. I battled anorexia on and off from 5th-11th grade. I felt like I had to look a certain way. I had to look fragile and petite, like those girls in magazines. I know what it’s like to feel pressure, to hate yourself.motivation1

About a year ago, something in me changed though. Maybe it was my silent way of saying “screw you” tosociety, but out of the blue I no longer wanted to be just skinny. I wanted to be powerful. I wanted a sculpted body, my muscles saying “look at me, look at the dedication it took to get here.” Anyone can be slender, but it takes work, determination and diligence to be fit. And so my journey began. Since then I have been the most confident I’ve ever been in life. I stopped worrying about the numbers on the scale, but rather about how I FELT.

So here I am telling you about how confident I am with myself, yet I prefaced this post with my body concerns. The truth is, I’ll never stop trying to achieve more. There is always something that I will want to change. And you know what, that’s okay. I will never pollute or harm my body as a means of changing it so why not?

I will always preach doing what makes you happy, so long as it is safe. If you want to change, make a change. Just be healthy about it. Do you know why I work out and lift hard? Yes it boosts my confidence, but there is something deeper than that. A FIT body, not just a skinny body, says something about the person. It shows that they are determined. They are dedicated. They do not quit. This isn’t just for working out, these are the traits that show in every aspect of their life. Their career, their goals, their family, etc. I want to inspire and motivate people. I want to be a role-model for girls who need one. How can I accomplish these things if I can’t take my fitness and health seriously? THIS is why I workout. I want to be the best version of me possible, so as to influence others to make a positive change.

My phone's screen saver. It motivates me on a daily basis.My phone’s screen saver. It motivates me on a daily basis.

Pressure from society will always be there, I don’t care what you say. It can be completely subconscious or right in front of your face, but it’s there. Once we get more comfortable with ourselves is when that pressure lightens. So, find what makes you confident. If you have to make a change to do so, then do it! The only person stopping you is yourself. What makes you confident?

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl

Breaking The Negative Perception…

This past week I had the pleasure of speaking to over 350 JROTC cadets at Leavenworth High School. Here is how it began;

I walked in wearing my military uniform, nothing out of the ordinary for a group of students who see this on a daily basis. I asked them what opinions came to their mind when I stood before them in uniform, and as I expected they looked at me with expressions of confusion. They simply said I was a woman in uniform.

Speaking to the students

Speaking to the students

 

As an icebreaker, I then pulled out my crown and sash and my “glammed up” pageant headshot. Every reaction was the same; gasps, whispers, astonishment. I  asked the students if their opinion of me changed any after seeing that I’m not just a woman in uniform. I asked them if they ever imagined putting the two together, a beauty queen and a soldier. When they said no, I asked why. The responses I received are as follows;

“Soldiers don’t mind getting dirty. Beauty queens care if they break a nail.”

“Beauty queens are full of themselves. ”

“Beauty queens are stuck up.”

There were many more, but you get the gist of it. After they gave their feedback I picked out a few students and labeled them. I pointed at a guy and told him he was a jock. I pointed at a girl and called her a cheerleader. And lastly, I told another guy that he was a band geek. After doing so (and getting a few glares from these students), I asked how they felt. They all said the same thing; stereotyped and labeled. As if simultaneously, the lightbulbs went off in their heads and they understood the point I was soon to make.

I backtracked to tell the students my story, where I came from and how I got here. I was a ghost in high school. I had no friends, no life, no confidence. I spent lunch period in the library, alone with my love for books. The characters in these pages being the only people I could relate to.

 

After the speech I went down to the rifle range for old times sake!

After the speech I went down to the rifle range for old times sake!

I took a leap out of my comfort zone one day and joined my school’s rifle team. Quickly escalating to the number one shot, I earned the nickname “Annie Oakley” and found where I belonged…in a man’s world. On that range is where I found myself and my confidence. I was never interested in the petty drama that followed most girls around in high school, so being around men on this range was relieving. No drama, just pure camaraderie and competition.

A year later, I joined the Army National Guard while still in high school. Getting shipped off to basic training was a fear come true….and I loved every minute of it. When one got in trouble, we all suffered for it. When one went down, we all went down. It was a band of brothers, unity and camaraderie at its finest. This is what I live for.

As I finished telling the students of my hard exterior, I softened it up a bit. How did a solider get into the pageant world? I said that God’s mission for me here on earth is to help people. To motivate, encourage, empower. The pageant world seemed best fit to catalyze my success in fulfilling God’s mission. It would allow me to speak to groups of people and share my platform.

Miss LV

As a final question, I asked them if their perception of a beauty queen was still the same….and they all said no. They said I broke the mold of what they assumed a beauty queen was like. My mission for this speech was a success. If I could just make ONE person think differently and stop stereotyping, I’ve done my part.

I left them with the lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” song. “If you want to make the world a better place, you better look at yourself and make a change.”

Make a change in yourself, people! Stop stereotyping, stop assuming, stop labeling!

 

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl…

What Makes One Beautiful?

Disregarding the title of this post, I’d like to first start out by saying Happy New Year! I ended 2012 with a fantastic day of hunting deer, and began 2013 with an even better day of hunting squirrels with my dad! Who needs the ever-sought after midnight kiss on New Years when you have that?!

Anyway, a few people have inquired if I made a New Year’s resolution. It took me awhile to think about this. Last year it was to get in shape…okay, who am I kidding, EVERY year it’s to get in shape! I can’t help myself, I know that I can always do better than the present. After a particular incident, however, I decided on something new. Here is the story;

A week ago I had the official Miss Outdoor Girl photoshoot with the highly-talented Lisa Blake (pictures to come soon). As part of the photos, I asked that her 12-year-old daughter be in them with me. After all, I was the one who had encouraged Elli to pick up archery a few months ago! So, here we are getting our photos taken together and all I could think about was how stunning and photogenic this girl was, and at only 12 nonetheless! To give you an idea, she’s as tall as I am (5’7), blonde hair, fair skin, and the bluest of eyes.

Suddenly I remember feeling sorry for her. Why, you ask? I have two reasons. One; Throughout her entire life she’s only going to be complimented on what’s on the outside, her looks. Not her creativity, not her beautiful soul, not her intelligence. And soon she will think that’s all she has going for her. Two; How many girls do you know that are so aware of their beauty that they place themselves on a pedestal? I am so afraid of that happening to Elli. As sad as it is to say, I’ve seen beauty ruin people.

After the photoshoot I asked Elli if she would enjoy coming to Cabelas with me. We needed to get her bow adjusted anyway. So here we are in–let’s face it–a male-dominant store, and Elli kept pointing out every single man that stared at us as we walked by. I told her that she had better start getting use to it because that’s the life she is going to live. Am I aware that I get stares at Cabelas? Of course, but never do I let that affect my humility. Rather, I thank God for his gift. At that moment I decided to give her the most valuable of lessons. I said, “Elli, you are gorgeous. And because of that a lot of opportunities will present themselves to you that aren’t there for other people. What I want you to do, is be humble about it. Be grateful and appreciative that so many things happen for you, but never let them go to your head.”

External beauty is a gift from God, so of course you should acknowledge it and appreciate it. What you should not do, however, is revel in your beauty. There is nothing more unattractive than a person who knows they’re attractive and thinks they are above others because of it. I recall my highschool days when I saw the “popular” girls doing this. All of you have seen it at one point or another.

Now, I’d like to make a clear distinction. Just because you may spend a significant amount of time on your appearance, doesn’t mean you are self-absorbed. Not in my opinion at least. I spend at least 2 1/2 hours in the gym on a daily basis, and if I’m getting ready for the day I’ll spend the same amount of time getting ready! I enjoy feeling like the best version of me. I enjoy feeling like a woman. Is that vain? Superficial? To some it may certainly seem like it, but as I said, that doesn’t make you self-absorbed or conceited.

Every single one of you is beautiful on the outside, but what does it matter if your inside beauty is lacking? Are you humble? Are you compassionate? Or are you judgmental? Vindictive? Jealous? In a moment God can easily take away his gift of external beauty. And then what will you be left with?

So, my New Year’s resolution is to focus more on my inside beauty. To have a caring heart, a beautiful soul, a sound mind. Are you internally beautiful?

-Your Miss Outdoor Girl…