Sea Goddess resignation prompts questions of social media boundaries

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 2:45pm

    ROCKLAND – The recently crowned 2018 Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess has resigned, according to a statement by festival directors. But the resignation has resulted in a furor of public reaction that has raised questions about ethics of using material posted on private Facebook accounts, as well as the fundamental policies of the Sea Goddess competition.

    At 12:35 p.m., Aug. 3, the official statement of the Maine Lobster Festival was posted to the festival’s website on the matter.

    “The Maine Lobster Festival would like to take this time to explain the events leading to the resignation of Taylor Hamlin as the 2018 Maine Sea Goddess,” the board of directors wrote.

    “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.

    “On August 2 the Board of Directors and the Coronation Committee met with Taylor to discuss the photos that were not in keeping with the behavior and image of the Maine Sea Goddess. At that time Taylor decided to resign her position as Maine Sea Goddess. Later in the day the Lobster Festival leadership met with Taylor and her parents, where Taylor officially resigned as the 2018 Maine Sea Goddess.

    “Crown Princess Erin Dugan will assume the duties of 2018 Maine Sea Goddess, and it is our hope that everyone will support her in her new role. We wish all the best to Taylor Hamlin in her future endeavors. This is a terrible situation for everyone involved. We hope that everyone will enjoy the rest of the festival that over 1,300 volunteers have worked so hard to put on to support our local community and the lobster industry.”

    But 19 hours earlier, Hamlin had released a statement in a public post on her personal Facebook page:

     “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,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “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.”

    Attempts to reach Hamlin for comment have been unsuccessful.

    “We take this as a life lesson,” Lobster Festival President Cynthia Powell said Aug. 3, in a telephone interview. “Social media is so prevalent in today’s society. Everyone has to recognize that things are in the ether all of the time, and we always have to be cognizant of that.”

    Powell said Hamlin was a part of the resignation decision, as were the directors.

    After three rounds of discussion, all including Hamlin, the joint decision was made, and resignation became effective immediately due to her “inability to fulfill her obligations,” according to Powell. Hamlin will, however, retain the $2,000 scholarship that came with the crown, she said.

    Taylor Hamlin had been crowned at a  Wednesday, Aug. 1 ceremony. See coronation ceremony story here

    The fallout has left the public questioning, mostly on social media, the purpose of the Sea Goddess event itself, what its competition rules and guidelines actually are, and how private photos on social media can be manipulated to affect one’s reputation.

    Powell would not comment specifically on the photos themselves, stating that that was Hamlin’s confidential matter, and not up to the Lobster Festival to discuss.

    The tradition of the Lobster Festival crowning a Sea Goddess extends back to 1949. The online application and guidelines for competing in the Sea Goddess pageant available at the Lobster Festival website say:

    The 2018 Sea Goddess Coronation, steeped in tradition and pageantry, will take place on Wednesday evening, August 1, 2018. As always, it will be one of the highlights of the 71th annual Maine Lobster Festival.

    If you are a young, Midcoast Maine lady who is interested in being part of this Festival tradition, here is how you apply:

    1. Ask for sponsorship. When you ask for sponsorship, explain that the money will be used to purchase your gown, sash, flowers, meals, and some of your traveling expenses. Local individuals and business owners love the opportunity to sponsor potential Sea Princesses. As a sponsor, they are able to have their names advertised through Festival materials in our official program, local newspapers, on your car in the parades, and mentioned during functions.
    2. Submit a complete application. All sections of the application must be filled out, and applications must include the full $500 entrance fee (this is where your sponsor(s) come in). Click here to download the application.
    3. Submit two color photos of yourself. We want to see your beautiful face! We also need photos to share with the local media and to display in our official program.
    4. Submit an essay. We want to hear about you, and why you want to be a Sea Princess. How would you fulfill the obligations that come with the honor of becoming the 2018 Maine Lobster Festival Sea Goddess? But don’t get too detailed… Essays must be between 250 and 500 words.

    Each applicant must be a single young lady, high school (or equivalent GED) graduate, 21 years of age or younger, and a Maine resident. Contestants may only participate in the pageant once. Any incomplete applications, or applications postmarked BEFORE February 12, 2018 or AFTER April 15, 2018, will not be accepted. Applicants should review the application, application checklist, and eligibility guidelines before mailing in materials.

    Sea Princess Guidelines (PDF)

    Sea Princess Checklist (PDF)

    Sea Princess Application (PDF)

    Twenty young ladies will be chosen from our applicants to be the 2018 Sea Princesses. 

    Hamlin, is a 2018 graduate of Oceanside High School. According to her biography that was submitted to the press along with the 19 other Sea Princesses, her high school activities included Key Club, theatre, STEM program, sports, National Honor Society, Civil Rights, and volunteering at the hospital.

    Her hobbies are working out, playing field hockey and lacrosse, spending time with friends, spending time at the beach, volunteering at the hospital, and chasing sunsets. She is employed at Country Keepers. Taylor’s future plans are to attend the University of Maine at Orono, then fashion school, and then open a store with her own designs. Taylor's sponsors are Hamlin's of South Thomaston and Raye Insurance of Rockland.

    Reach Sarah Thompson at