Photos from the Frankston Bomber's "come as your favourite rap star" party on the weekend were discussed on morning television today. David Campbell, the son of one of my imaginary husbands (rock legend Jimmy Barnes), said that with that theme, you'd have to expect people to come dressed as Kanye West, for example, and Sonia Kruger agreed, adding that everyone couldn't come dressed as Eminem.
Sorry, but that doesn't make sense to me, because the clear implication is that those people are inherently defined by their skin colour, and that is simply not true. Campbell did say he thought it was insensitive of the Frankston players to dress like that and post it all over social media, but to that I thought: dude, I may have loved your father since I was a teenager, but I totally disagree with the inference that dressing up as a someone whose skin colour you don't share means altering your own.
My first ever article on HuffPost Australia spoke about how we are all so much more than the colour of our skin, and how frustrating it is to be defined as such. My piece was certainly not a whinge, but an explanation of how colour perceptions hurt us with stereotypes. For most of us, we just want some acknowledgement from people who don't share that issue that it is an issue for us. And it's why, when you cover yourself in brown shoe polish or dark body paint to dress up as Kanye West, for example, it's quite frankly (pun intended) annoying, because not being defined by your skin colour is a luxury that many of us don't enjoy.
When I turned 20, I decided to have a costume party, and dress as Barnesy. I have never been one of those people to hire a proper costume as if I am in a freaking Am Dram play. I actually don't understand the concept of why, when you're dressing up as something that you are quite obviously not, the costume needs to fit your character exactly. I like the use of your imagination, and the impact that has on the other guests. I like your personality peeping through a bit. You get extra points from me if you can convince me of who you have dressed as, without precisely duplicating everything down to skin colour.
Over the years, I have dressed up as Oprah and Michael Jackson, not because they have similar coloured skin to mine, but because they are my icons. I have also gone to parties dressed as Madonna and Ellen De Generes, and it did not even cross my mind to make my skin appear fairer for the occasions. If anyone wondered why I had chosen to come 'dressed as a white person', they certainly didn't tell me. Instead, I actually got kudos for thinking outside the box, and let my actual costume do all the work.
In Barnesy's case, my incredible -- and drunken -- rendition of Khe Sanh was the icing on the cake of my awesome get up, which consisted of hair styled into a mullet, grungy/rockstar clothing, and the most comfortable pair of boots I've ever worn. I wish I had a photo from this 1996 party to show you, but I'll happily post my next car solo of Khe Sanh online for you to be wowed with how convincing I can be without talcum powder on my face. *
Lastly, here's a friendly tip -- the next time anyone wants to dress up as Kanye West, try putting on some blue contact lenses (from his appearance at the Met Ball last week) and some clothes with holes in them that are ten sizes too large, and interrupt me with "Imma let you finish"; and everyone will know who you are immediately.
*Disclaimer: author has over-inflated view of her singing skills