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your look ● body sculpting By Dr. Harvey C Jenkins, PhD, MD Game Changer Miss Kansas Theresa Vail raised millions of eyebrows as she displayed her tattoos on the Miss America stage, and it has started an important discussion T his year at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, a “glass ceiling” was broken. For the first time, a contestant, Miss Kansas, walked across the stage in the “Lifestyle & Fitness” competi- tion bearing an obvious body art. Despite her ex- quisite physique, no doubt shaped by months of physical training, the focus and spotlight were on the following words, neatly inscribed on the delicate skin of her flank: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can- not change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Many of us of recognize this as the “Serenity Prayer”, which is attributable to American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Others can point to periods in life when these very words provided comfort in very rough situations. This event may be the first time in history that this message of Serenity has actually created controversy. In pageant circles, this was the equivalent of heresy. No matter which side of this controversy you fall on, this moment needed to happen. This discussion needed to occur. And the timing coinciding with the return of the Miss America Pageant to Atlantic City was perfect. The place where 30 years ago one important barrier was broken, and this year two more barriers were broken. For one of those barriers, one tattoo might have changed everything. WHAT IS A TATTOO? A tattoo is a form of body modification involving the in- sertion of ink into the deep dermis layer of the skin to change its pigment. Tattoo practitioners consider it a form of art, while the practice dates back many hundreds of years 42 PAGEANTRY and across cultures, having religious, spiritual and aesthetic significances, but also reflecting genealogy and rites-of- passage. The first written references to the art of tattooing date back to the late 1700s. Since 1970, tattoos have become an increasing main- stream part of Western Fashion. The statement it makes has for many years signified defiance, deviation from the norm and social nonconformity. Gang members and bikers use them to signify identity, unity and loyalty. Supermodels display them as a permanent accessory or personal trade- mark. Depending on vocation, tattoos are accepted in a number of professions and circumstances in America. Al- though companies across many fields are increasingly fo- cused on diversity and inclusion, tattoo flaunting is still probably best reserved for post-work hours, most definitely not pageants for young women—that is until maybe now— where pop icons like Rihanna, several supermodels and now, the pageant industry and runways around the world could be changing that. ABOUT THAT TATTOO Now that the pageant world has passed a major barrier of diversity by having a contestant display an obvious tat-