A group of furious parents in South Carolina took to protest on social media after their children came home with fliers encouraging the students to participate in a school beauty pageant, judging on criteria like "facial beauty" to crown "a beautiful child with a sparkling personality."
Indian Land Elementary School parent Dave Dodson, upset with the message the event would send to students, immediately launched a Facebook page encouraging other parents to join him in protest of the school's "Warrior Beauty Pageant." A Change.org petition has also garnered 140 signatures.
Within hours, the school principal announced that the event -- scheduled for Oct. 20 -- had been canceled after a huge wave of negative response, WCNC reports. But now, a separate group of parents are upset that it got nixed, and are seeking to petition for its return.
The pageant sought to find a warrior king and queen to "represent their school all year long during school events." The contestants would be judged on "facial beauty, sparkling personality and overall appeal," according to the flier sent home with students. It also offered awards for "best eyes, best hair, best smile, best dressed" aside from "most beautiful."
"We try to teach our children that there's much more than someone's outside appearance," Dodson told WSOC-TV. I think that kids get enough pressure today to look a certain way, to act a certain way, without bringing something like this in, that is being promoted and is tied to the school, I don't think that's right."
While Lancaster County School District officials say they did not sponsor the event, pageant organizer Tracy Hyland tells WBTV that the school's principal allowed her to use the school's name in promoting the event. Hyland had spent two decades working with her daughter in pageants, and brought this one together as a surprise playground equipment fundraiser in honor of the school vice principal's late son.
"This is not 'Honey Boo Boo Child.' This is not 'Toddlers and Tiaras.' This is an opportunity for the children to come up, shine, and be themselves on stage," Hyland told WBTV. "As a parent - watching my child go across the stage - it's wonderful. Let's think about the other activities children do - football, dance, soccer, swimming, ice-skating - all of those things are judged."
But parent Jessica Dodson says it's not about the pageant.
"If you want to do that, that's fine. I just don't think that facial beauty is something that should be criteria to be a school mascot, basically," she told WCNC-TV. "That they would base the criteria of choosing the Indian Land king and queen on facial beauty ... was horrific and a little bit revolting."