I had an incredible run of awesome assignments last year and this shoot for New York Magazine’s The Cut blog was definitely one of them. The inaugural Ms. Veteran America competition combined three of my favorite things- women’s issues, warrior culture, and pageantry. The competition was formed, according to the official website, “to showcase ‘The Woman Beyond the Uniform’. As a Female Veteran, some of our femininity becomes lost when we wear the uniform, because we have to blend in with the boys. Our grace, poise, beauty and talents become camouflaged during our military service.” The Cut wanted me to focus on the fashions as part of their ongoing style tribes series which did not prove difficult. The dresses were very… colorful. It was a long day-into-night, but to see the winner and runner up standing next to each other, one an 89-year-old WWII veteran and the other an Air Force Staff Sergeant, was a bit mind-bending. I kept asking the contestants how they reconciled the long struggle for equality within the military with a beauty pageant, but no one seemed to be conflicted about it.