We have no idea who we are
We’ve got a lot to be confident about being Australian. Leaving aside, for a second, all the issues each of us may think are sending this country to hell in a handbasket, (such as this, this and this) the list of what we can be proud of is pretty long.
Most of us would think we could pin point what those things are. We talk about mate-ship, mythologise our sporty outdoorsyness, perhaps mention multi-culturalism, our startling natural wonders, and our stable banking system.
But none of that really adds up to a national identity we can dress up in. There are so many ways we represent ourselves to the world that the annual cringe-fest that is our entry in the national dress segment of Miss Universe is by no means the most crucial. But it does serve as an annual reminder we’ve got no real idea who we are.
This year’s costume, to be worn by the lovely Renae Ayris, is by no means the worst thing we’ve sent some poor Hawko wannabe down the runway in.
But it’s up there in the race for most confusing. I can’t believe I’m writing this but the Ugg Boots Jesinta Campbell wore with her Outback inspired dress made more sense than the star-spangled Roman sandals digging in to Ayris’s calves. Yeah, we get that they represent the Southern Cross, but they look like Roman sandals.
See, we all know what Roman sandals look like.
The thing on top of Ayris’s head is more Vegas showgirl than good Aussie chick.
And the dress? Apart from the fact it is very very short, it’s kind of unremarkable.
You can’t really blame the designer. According to the Daily Telegraph:
This year’s winner, Sydney designer Jessica Bregenhoj who was once mentored by Alex Perry, was chosen from a field of 400 budding designers. Their designs were whittled down to four by 76,000 votes from viewers of the Sunrise breakfast program. Jessica says the gold costume is a symbol of Australia - with its golden sun, desert and sands and was inspired by Jorn Utzon’s Opera House.
It sounds right. But it never, ever works.
Our national identity can’t be boiled down to a building. That would be like sending the French contestant out with a mini Eiffel Tower on her head, or the Peruvian beauty in a paper mache Machu Picchu.
The French don’t need to put a baguette under someone’s arm when they’ve got Coco Chanel from whom to draw style cues.
I bet the Brazilian girl doesn’t need a depiction of a rainforest to make her presence known.
And the Russian won’t have St Basil’s Cathedral sticking out of her fur hat.
We should stop trying so hard. We should embrace our confidence and just be cool, and fresh and, well, Australian. It can’t be that hard can it?
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