Tattooed Soldier Shatters Miss America Stereotypes

Miss Kansas, Sgt. Theresa Vail, is a dental technician for the U.S. National Guard.
4:23 | 09/13/13

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Transcript for Tattooed Soldier Shatters Miss America Stereotypes
Good dad. We have something big coming up on "the heat index." A contestant taking on the swimsuit competition with tattoos in full view. If you've got it, flaunt it. And she sure did. Miss kansas, daring to bear her two, large tattoos during the miss america swimsuit preliminaries. A jaw-dropping sight. We're going on stage, I was a little nervous. Thinking, what will the reaction be? Will I get boos? But I went out there. And I rocked it. You know. I think it's really about confidence. Reporter: What are your tattoos of? The serenity prayer. It's my personal mission I like to say. Reporter: Vail is just the second member of the u.S. Military -- for the past six years I've been an american soldier. Reporter: -- To ever compete in the miss america pageant. A different type of active duty she hasn't quite gotten used to. Which one is harder? Right now, I'm going to say this one. Be girlie, put on makeup. Fake eyelashes on stage. It's a new arena. Reporter: But vail has good aim. A master archer, she planned on demonstrating her bow and arrow skills in the talent portion of the competition. But at the last minute, she was told projectile objects were forbidden. So, in just two days, she learned opera. ♪ shows tattoos and come out in a gown and sing opera. I wanted to show the judges i can be a poised, graceful, elegant woman. But I have a dichotomy. I wear cammo. And carry a gun. I can carry a gun. Reporter: On sunday night, she may be carrying a crown. The response of facebook and twitter messages, thank you for changing this perception of women that decide to compete. That's what makes it worth it. Win or lose, I know I'm changing something. Reporter: And here, now, joining us from the famous atlantic city boardwalk, is sergeant theresa vail. Now, we just heard how your fans reacted on social media to your tattoos. How did the other con tetestants reacted? And how have pageant officials reacted? They're supportive of all this. Sharon pierce, the president of the miss america organization says she supports what I'm doing. They embrace individuality and versety. And the other contestants are so supportive. They think it's awesome. Half the girls here have tattoos. They're just choosing to cover them. And speaking of being an individual and making sure everyone knows it, I want to list all of the things you can do. We learned that you taught yourself to sing in two days. A markswoman, a bow hunter, a skydiver, a boxer, a mechanic, you can skin a deer. And I heard you make a mean squirrel stew with sour kraut. Did I miss anything? No. I think you got it all. How did basic training in the army help you prepare for this competition? Did some of those skills come in handy? Yeah. The mental traini, obviously. This is hard here. The long nights. The mind games. It's a mental game. And basic training, for sure, prepared me for this, I would say. Quickly, I want to say thank you for your service. Can't thank you enough. Thank you. And best of luck this weekend. A big deal at the pageant is back in atlantic city. Back to its roots. Thank you, miss kansas. Sergeant theresa vail. And you mentioned, sunday night. Tune two a special "20/20" "pageant confidential, the road to miss america." That's at 8:00 p.M. Eastern. And immediately after, the 2014 miss america competition from atlantic city, at 9:00 p.M., hosted by lara spencer. And chris harrison. That's right here on abc. We'll be watching. Thank you. It's a wonderful event. I'm looking forward to it. And atlantic city. Here we go. One contestant. That's going to be a great show.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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