Taylor Hamlin, 18, was forced to resign as "Sea Goddess" of the Maine Lobster Festival after organizers became aware of two photos posted to her finsta account. In one of the photos she held a joint; in the other, a Juul, the teen told BuzzFeed News on Monday.
The two photos were posted on her private "fake" Instagram account that her "exclusive friends" follow, known as a "finsta." The account has roughly 100 followers.
"I can't trust anybody," Taylor said. "People you think might support you, people can do this to you and you might not expect it."
Running for the position of Sea Goddess requires about a month of "intensive" work, the teen said. She spent nearly all of her free time working toward the crown.
Taylor was crowned at the coronation on Aug. 1. According to the Maine Lobster Festival website, the coronation is "steeped in tradition and pageantry."
"I was shocked. There had been so many talented young ladies," the teen said. "When they called my name I was like, 'Holy moly, me?'"
Taylor said that the Sea Goddess acts as an ambassador for her community, the town of Rockland, Maine.
Not even 24 hours after the coronation, the teen said she was "shocked" when organizers told her that they wanted her to step down and mentioned the two photos from her fake Instagram account.
"They said: 'This is not what we want our Sea Goddess to represent,'" Taylor recalled.
Later in the day, in a meeting that the teen's parents attended, they told her that she needed to resign "immediately."
"They told me that I needed to immediately step down," Taylor said.
"My mom was so mad," the teen said. "She's just so proud of me."
The Maine Lobster Festival released a statement about Taylor's removal, saying that photos of the teen were "brought to the attention" of organizers.
"After the Maine Sea Goddess Coronation on August 1, photos of inappropriate behavior posted on Taylor Hamlin’s personal social media pages was brought to the attention of the Coronation Committee and the Executive Board of Directors," the statement read.
The following day, organizers said, they spoke to the teen. The festival described the photos in question as "not in keeping with the behavior and image of the Maine Sea Goddess."
The festival said that the teen chose to resign after the organizers spoke to her, and that Taylor officially did so in a later meeting with her parents.
Now, the "Crown Princess" is stepping into the position.
"We wish all the best to Taylor Hamlin in her future endeavors," the festival's statement read. "This is a terrible situation for everyone involved."
When contacted for comment, a representative directed BuzzFeed News to the festival's statement. The festival's president did not immediately return a request for comment.
An hour after Taylor turned in her crown, she took to Facebook to explain. "Everybody is a teen once and awhile," she wrote. "I’m sorry to whoever didn’t receive the goddess they wanted and felt the need to sabotage this amazing thing that has happened to me."
Here is her post in full:
I just wanted to let everyone know that the lobster festival committee has taken me down from the sea goddess position due to members of our community emailing pictures of me through out high school. Everybody is a teen once and awhile. I’m sorry to whoever didn’t receive the goddess they wanted and felt the need to sabotage this amazing thing that has happened to me. You clearly don’t know me well enough or know the real Taylor Hamlin. I am active through out our community, in sports, church, and school. If you have negative opinions about their decision you should email them and tell them who I really am, what I stand for. Because I have truly never felt more swept under the rug. I will always be this years sea goddess in my heart and hopefully in all of yours. Thank you for all the congratulations because they truly do show me how many people are so supportive of me.
Hamlin's post has been met with effusive support and outrage, and her community is up in arms. It has since gotten over 1,000 likes and comments.
"Anonymity in politics, at any level, is the mark of a true cowardly scumbag, and only surpassed by those similarly spineless officious SOBs who cant wait to pander to the loudest voice," one person said on Hamlin's Facebook post. "No wonder we send all our lobsters to Canadian ponds and pay a fee to import them back into the states!"
"Petty, truly petty," another person said. "I hope the people who participated in this disgrace do not live in glass houses. Throwing stones could get expensive. You guys get a life and reinstate this young lady....."
"Let he who is without sin throw the first stone," yet another comment in support of Hamlin read. "(None are perfect , we are ALL sinners.) I am so sorry envious nasty people did this to you."
"I am a 58 year old lady who was once young too. So sad that people have become less tolerant over time," another comment read. "Keep your chin up. Sorry to sound like a Sue Heck poster but this just leaves you available for bigger and better things."
Taylor said she had "no clue" her response would go viral, saying, "I just wanted to tell my community the truth."
She thought sharing could also have a positive effect on kids with social media.
"People have always told me that social media will affect me," she said, but explained that this is the first time that it has.
Taylor said if there is something positive to come from her dethroning it's that she has learned a lesson, that she hopes other people will keep in mind too.
"I don't want to be the example, but I hope people can take me as the example," she said. "I would not want this to happen to anyone else. I don't want anyone else to have this feeling. It's not a good feeling.
"I know for a fact I will never post a photo like that again."