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…

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.
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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.

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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

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…

And the Winner is ………

It was Dec 8th, and a day I will never forget! That was the day that I became Miss Leavenworth County for the American system. I know most of you reading this blog don’t know me, so you might think that I was born to compete, or have been dreaming of being Miss America all of my life. Well, let me correct your thought process and really allow you to get to know me.Theresa Vail

When I was younger, I was the girl that just never really fit in with the so-called “pretty girls” or the “popular” kids. I wasn’t a nerd, but just didn’tfeel the need to work hard to fit in. Because I was a little bit different, I turned to mother nature and she provided  me with what is now my passion…..the great outdoors. I am the happiest when I am in a deer stand or drawing back that bow to mark the most perfect buck I have ever seen. Now, your thinking to yourself, there is no way this chic is an outdoor girl but I assure you, it is my passion and my heart and that is why I created Miss Outdoor Girl.

It's a button buck, but hey, it's my first deer to get during bow season!

It’s a button buck, but hey, it’s my first deer to get during bow season!

I normally wouldn’t think of myself as a beauty contestant, well, actually, I still don’t, but what I have learned about myself is that I truly believe in my platform and because of that I feel this pageant system will enable me to impact so many lives through my outdoor program for young women. I can’t tell you how surreal it was to hear my name called as the winner. You ever have that moment when you need someone to pinch yourself? That was me in that moment. I was one step closer to my dream of representing Kansas in the Miss America Pageant. Changing lives through empowering young women to embrace their own personal passion for outdoor activities. That is why I did this and  I am so thankful for all the support I have been given to help me on this journey to achieve my own personal dream.

I will share my journey with you through updates of events and appearances and some of the pageant prep as I get ready to compete in June. I will also be posting pics of some of the amazing people and young ladies I get to meet along the way. I hope you will take the time to check back in and follow me as I take on what I know is sure to be the biggest year for me yet! Thanks so much for all of your support and have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!…