Theresa Vail, also known as Miss Kansas, was the first Miss America contestant to let her tattoos show. The tattoo wearing, bow hunting, National Guard soldier advanced to the top 10 of the competition but did not win the title. Controversy over whether her body ink made her a bad role model surrounded the pageant, but Vail said that the tattoos meant something to her. Even so, people made derogatory comments towards the 22-year-old pageant queen.
I have quite a few friends who are ‘pageant queens.’ Interested in what they thought, I decided to ask them what their opinion is on proudly displaying tattoos in pageantry. Annie Franklin, currently Miss Bluegrass Area, doesn’t have any tattoos but doesn’t think that it was a big deal that Miss Kansas did.
“I don't think it's bad for a woman to have a noticeable tattoo,” Franklin said. “But I do think if they're willing to show it, they should explain the meaning and why they got it.”
Miss Kansas told the nation that her tattoo was a reminder that she could overcome anything. She said that she remembers praying for peace for the things that she could not change. That is when she decided to get a tattoo of the Serenity Prayer.
“I wouldn't necessarily promote tattoos but if you do have one that means something to you, don't be afraid to show it,” said Franklin. “But also don't be afraid to explain your reasoning for it.”
Franklin said if she had a tattoo she would cover it up when competing in a pageant because if you were to show off your ink and not be able to explain the reasoning behind it you are at a risk of losing points.
“I always want to do well and I'm thinking from the standpoint of scoring the most points possible,” she said. “However, if someone was to make a negative comment about tattoos to me I would simply tell them that this is 2013 and there's a new image to tattoos. They are pieces of art work, memories of lost loved ones, odes to their faith, and even their life story.”
Katie Himes, currently Miss Ohio Collegiate and Miss Tollesboro Fair, has a different point of view on tattoos because she has four herself.
“My tattoos are important to me because they are all reflective of something in my life that I care about,” said Himes. “My first one is a white tiara on my wrist because competing in pageants has been a huge part of my life. My second tattoo is a heart on the right side of my right ring finger; it's special because my mom got the same one. My third tattoo is 3.8.63 on the left side of my right ring finger; it's one of my most special tattoos. I wear my grandmother's engagement ring that my grandfather proposed to her with 50 years ago and 3.8.63 is their wedding date. Finally, I have ‘let it be’ on the inside of my left foot. I love that saying and I try to live my life by it.”
Himes loved Miss Kansas as a competitor and thought that her tattoos are what made her stand out among the other girls.
“Her tattoos are what made America fall in love with her. They made her human and different and appealing,” said Himes.
Himes has never tried to hide or cover any of her tattoos in the multiple pageants that she has done, and she doesn’t plan ever plan on doing so.
“Mine are really small and discrete so it wouldn't make much sense to cover them. But my tattoos are a part of me and I don't want to hide that,” she said.
Both girls find it acceptable to have tattoos as long as they are meaningful. While Franklin doesn’t have a tattoo and has no plans of getting one, Himes loves having them and finds that it shows who she is a little more.
Having tattoos myself I don’t think that they are trashy or should be looked at in a negative way. Some people draw this conclusion from the stereotypes that tattoos left years ago, references from the bible, or just personal preferences. I personally liked Miss Kansas more for not covering up her tattoos because it showed America that she was comfortable in her own skin. Having tattoos or not, being confident with who you are is the most beautiful thing a girl can be.
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