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.
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So Rachael Finch came fourth in this year’s Miss Universe. Let’s get one thing straight: there’s only reason we put so much store in this vacuous bit of exhibitionism in Australia, and that’s Jennifer Hawkins.
Look at this picture. Any competition that presents an image of women from Ecuador as straw-hat wearing lovelies who carry carry around bananas and tribal masks deserves nothing but opprobrium.
Other dresses in the “national costume” section of the competition are similarly clownish stereotypes. Ostensibly they’re supposed to celebrate the diversity of the competition - but Miss Panama ends up looking like she’s being eaten by a cartoon monster from the internet, and Miss Bahamas ends up looking like a giant yellow peacock (sorry - no link, take my word for it). It might be funny, if it wasn’t so crass.
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