‘It was really unfair:’ Beauty queen chooses to give up crown after being told to cover tattoos

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PHELAN, Calif. — A California beauty queen is giving up her crown over her newly inked arms.

Sierra Leyde said she was excited when she was crowned Miss Phelan last fall, but she soon realized her title with the Chamber of Commerce was mainly ceremonial.

“Mostly we did ribbon cuttings and then we did an Easter thing up at Serrano High School, but that was about it,” said Leyde.

That’s why Leyde wasn’t really thinking about her position when she decided to get some tattoos on her 18th birthday.

“I did it mostly for myself. I, all my tattoos have very special meanings to me,” said Leyde.

Soon afterwards, Leyde said the Chamber of Commerce asked her to sign a Miss Phelan contract that read, in part: “Body piercings … shall not be seen or worn during appearances. Tattoos shall also remain concealed at all times in sash and crown.”

Leyde said she tried to discuss the ink issue with Chamber of Commerce officials, but ultimately decided to give up her crown.

“I don’t feel like I should have to cover my tattoos because they are so normal now. They’re part of the ‘norm,'” said Leyde.

Her mom, Lisa Leyde, said she agrees. Even thought she doesn’t love all of her daughter’s tattoos, she said they don’t change who her daughter is.

“The fact that they were telling me that my daughter wasn’t wholesome, a wholesome representative of the community, because she had a tattoo — that didn’t change anything from before she had the tattoo. What made her less wholesome because she has a tattoo now?” said Lisa Leyde.

Chamber of Commerce officials said in a statement they have no issues with their Miss Phelan representatives having tattoos, other than asking that they be covered during official chamber events.

Sierre Leyde and her mother said that seems to go against what the pageant is supposed to be about.

“For them to base the pageant around diversity in our community and then kind of squash diversity made no sense to me, and I just felt like it was really unfair,” said Lisa Leyde.

The Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for the next Miss Phelan.

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