Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail, made waves earlier in the year when the active military woman confidently showed off her tattoos while competing for the title of Miss America. She ended up making the top 10 of the pageant, and is continuing to use her platform to spread good messages to those who will listen to her.
The US Army is facing a controversy after an email leaked to the public on Politico that shows Col. Lynette Arnhart pushing for “ugly women” and “average looking women” to be used in the Army’s PR strategy to try to recruit more female soldiers. Arnhart writes, “Ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.”
Vail, the second-ever Miss America contestant to also be on active duty, took offense to that stance from the Army. “Unfortunately that is the sick reality and one of the many stereotypes I’m trying to break,” she tweets. “However, it is going to take an army of women to break that perception, not just myself.”
She adds, “Women need to realize the stereotypes they’re facing so that we can overcome them TOGETHER! … I don’t understand why looks are even considered. Why not focus on our abilities? More women need to say something!”
The big complaint in Arnhart’s email was that the Army was using photos like this one that show “pretty” women in makeup, while instead they should be using photos like one of a woman with mud on her face which “sends a much different message — one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.”
Vail, who used her femininity to her advantage in the Miss America pageant, previously addressed this division. “Nobody expects a soldier to be a beauty queen,” she said in an earlier interview, “but I’m all about breaking stereotypes.”