Beauty queens have lost their crowns for so many colorful reasons. But for changing their hair color?
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Oh yeah. It’s possible. Just ask 15-year-old Olivia O’Neil. The New Zealand girl won the Miss Teen Wanganui pageant about three months ago amid frantic cheering and emotional embraces. Everything was fine and dandy — until she posted a new profile photo of herself on Facebook.
Her crime? She dyed her tousled tresses from blond to dark brown.
Pageant organizer Barbara Osborne saw O’Neil’s new look and was appalled.
“Is that a wig?” Osborne wrote. “I hope it is, don’t give me heart failure. ... Oh my God, I hope it’s a demi. ... Please tell me that’s a wig.”
O’Neil said she was not wearing a wig. She added that if her brown hair wasn’t “pageant worthy,” then maybe pageants weren’t for her.
“Well you better decide, miss,” Osborne replied. “Hand over your crown with an attitude like that. I’m sure someone will step into your place with manners.”
O’Neil told the New Zealand Herald that Osborne said she “would not go far in this world” when she gave up her crown.
“I don’t think you can tell a 15-year-old that they aren’t going to go very far in life,” O’Neil said. “It’s hurtful.”
New pageant spokesman Jevan Goulter confirmed to the Herald that O’Neil lost her crown for altering her hair color. “The expectation in holding the crown [was] that she maintain the image she had when she won it,” Goulter said.
O’Neil told the newspaper that Osborne was “always really harsh on the girls.”
“And when she says things like ‘present yourself better,’ ‘wear lots of makeup,’ ‘do 20 sit-ups,’ it gets to you after a while,” O’Neil said.
In the wake of the hairy ordeal, Osborne is no longer associated with the Miss Teen Wanganui pageant. And the local government has even gotten involved in the drama. On Thursday, Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws vowed on a government website to help combat the “Miss Teen Wanganui smear campaign.”
Laws called the pageant’s treatment of O’Neil “simply horrendous — this is a hate campaign ...
“The organizers of the pageant are actively canvassing alternative reasons in their attempt to deflect responsibility. This is bullying, pure and simple. The pageant’s newly appointed spokesman, Jevan Goulter, has directly contradicted statements he made in the Herald ... by suggesting that Olivia’s dismissal was for other more untoward reasons.
“I will not stand by and let these blatant lies destroy the character of a young Wanganui woman. I applaud Olivia and her family in choosing to stand up and facing this issue head on.”
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints