Three women, including the ousted 2018 Maine Sea Goddess, spoke at the Camden Public library Thursday, March 7, as part of the Midcoast Women series, "Collective Voices: Maine Women Share Their Stories," with a program titled “You Go, Girl.”

The panel, featuring Taylor Hamlin, a Rockland resident studying at the University of Maine; Emily Davis, a Rockland resident studying at Bowdoin College; and State Rep. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, shared their stories about a time when their "You go, girl" spirit helped them respond to a unique challenge and opportunity. The panel was moderated by Ronni Arno Blaisdell, an author and director of admissions and outreach at the Watershed School.

Hamlin, the first storyteller, made national headlines last summer when she was crowned, and then de-crowned, Sea Goddess of the Maine Lobster Festival. Twenty-four hours after winning the title, Hamlin was asked to stand down, allegedly because of two social media photos from multiple years ago, one of her holding a Juul, and one of her holding a joint.

“I’m not the only teenager who has smoked or tried nicotine,” Hamlin told the audience. “I had been volunteering at the Lobster Festival my whole life. My mom told me I had practically been born in a lobster T-shirt.”

The controversy escalated when Maine Lobster Festival officials demanded that Hamlin resign because she was not able to fulfill the duties required of the Sea Goddess, when in fact, Hamlin thought she was able to fulfill all of the necessary duties.

“I had felt as if my emotions were being toyed with,” Hamlin said, adding that the experience left her “feeling swept under the rug,” as festival officials told her not to tell anyone about the de-crowning.

“I was publicly embarrassed,” Hamlin stated.

Feeling like she had to do something to defend herself, Hamlin composed a Facebook post about what had happened, and it blew up.

“I got thousands of shares, messages and comments from the post,” Hamlin said, sharing some of the messages, from local residents, to people from other countries. Shortly after the post was shared, national media outlets such as Buzzfeed, People and Yahoo picked up the story.

“After I was de-crowned, I learned a few things about myself,” Hamlin told the audience. “I know who I am, and I know how I should be treated. I also learned how supportive my community is.”

Hamlin followed up with her newfound thoughts on social media. “I never realized how much social media can affect us until it happened to me. Be careful about what you post, and use it as a luxury.”

Despite her experience, Hamlin still urged other girls to go for the crown for the 2019 Sea Goddess Pageant. “I love the festival,” she said, adding that she loves the state of Maine, and is grateful for her community.

Davis was the next speaker to share her story. Currently a sophomore at Bowdoin College, Davis was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment during her senior year at Oceanside High School in Rockland, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class.

“I believe I have been asked here today to talk about going through cancer treatment as a high school student,” David said, “but rather than describe this, I am more interested in life after-the-cancer experience.”

“Surviving cancer does not mean that all adversity has been overcome,” Davis said. “Surely, having cancer does not mean that there is nothing left.”

Davis is majoring in chemistry, with a minor in English. “I’m not sure where my educational path will take me,” she said. “It’s challenging to see eight or 10 years down the line."

"It’s hard to say how much my cancer had affected my current education, but it’s given me a moral courage of being OK with discomfort," she continued. "As I figure out what I want to do with my life, I am OK with the uncertainty.”

Maxmin, a Harvard graduate and climate activist, talked about why she decided to run for the Maine House of Representatives in District 88, which includes Jefferson, Whitefield, Chelsea and part of Nobleboro.

“We are at a point where basic human rights are in danger. Politics have failed us,” Maxmin stated.

Maxmin, who grew up on a farm in Nobleboro, supports affordable health care, a healthy planet, high-quality education, well-paying jobs and debt-free schools. More people voted for Maxmin than had voted in any previous Democratic primary, and on Nov. 6, she became the first Democrat to win Maine House District 88.

Maxmin credits her victory to connecting with people throughout her district, no matter their party affiliation. She took the time to speak to all members of her community and to listen to their thoughts and concerns.

“I think we live in a moment where civility, kindness and integrity are rare things,” she said. “I want to use this opportunity to live up to my community.”

Midcoast Women provides opportunities for area women of all ages to find and strengthen their individual and shared voices. Collective Voices are one-hour storytelling events, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session. They are free and open to the public.