A beauty queen in the Southern California desert community of Phelan has given up her crown rather than cover up her tattoos, the AP reports. Sierra Leyde didn't have tattoos when she was named Miss Phelan at age 17. But she celebrated her 18th birthday with tattoos of flowers on her upper arm and shoulder, and a shark on her forearm. The Phelan Chamber of Commerce then asked her to sign a contract saying she would keep the tattoos covered while in her sash and crown. Leyde tells KCBS-TV she doesn't think she should have to cover up because tattoos are now normal, but she decided to drop her title. "I did it mostly for myself," she says. "All my tattoos have very special meanings to me."
"The fact that they were telling me my daughter wasn’t wholesome, a wholesome representative of the community because she had a tattoo, and that didn’t change anything from before she had the tattoo," says her mother, Lisa. "What made her less wholesome because she has a tattoo now?" For her, it's also about diversity: "For them to base the pageant around diversity in our community and then kind of squash diversity made no sense to me." The Phelan Chamber of Commerce says it's seeking a 2018 Miss Phelan, but the Leydes warn crown-seekers that they should be ready for the chamber's "overly conservative" views.
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