SCOUT: “Atticus, he was real nice.”
ATTICUS: “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
I was at the shopping centre recently, picking up something for dinner when a boy pointed at me and asked his mum, “Is she a bogan?”
I wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or not at the idea that some 10 year old was calling me a bogan.
Then I had a long, hard think about it. Well, really it was a quick think, it didn’t take long to deduce that perhaps the kid was onto something…
I have tattoos. One the length of my forearm, which is what prompted the question from the boy. I have piercings, I wear tracky dacks to the shops, I live in thongs in summer and Ugg boots in winter, I am an unmarried mother, I drink, I swear, I’m loud and I love to rock out to music. All that is missing from the stereotype is the packet of Winnie Blues shoved up the sleeve of my flanno.
But the truth of the matter is I’ve always thought of myself as more geek than bogan. Because as well as all the above, I’m also incredibly shy, I like to read, I like butterflies, I always tuck my blouse into my slacks at work, I’m more sensible ponytail than mullet, and I think specs are the best accessory a girl can have!
Somewhere along the line, the polarities of the spectrum have become very blurred and on reflection the beginning of this sentence reinforces my geek-not-bogan claim.
My schizophrenic personality is demonstrated by the fact that I am too busy (and don’t care enough) to think about getting myself ‘public-ready’. Yet, once I’m out, dressed in nothing more than tracksuit pants, thongs and a t-shirt, I shudder at the obvious comparison I draw between myself and a barefoot Britney Spears wandering through the service station!
It’s a legacy of my entire twenties. A decade of wasted time and energy caring about what others thought of me. Thank goodness 30 came along when it did, bringing with it a sense of comfort, and even contentment, about who I am.
I’m interested in the connotations of the stereotypical bogan these days. I think I fit the stereotype, don’t get me wrong, but is it the negative stereotype it used to be? Do we conjure up images of Cronulla riots when we think of bogans? Or do we think of the larrikins satirised so often in Australian comedy? Or even Shane Warne pre-Liz Hurley?
Times they are a changin’…
Tattoos are commonplace, marriage isn’t the only gateway to your ‘happily ever after’, women are more likely to have careers now instead of waiting for Prince Charming to come along to ‘complete’ their lives. I dread the day my daughter looks up at me and tells me she wants to be a princess when she grows up…more on that point another time.
Does it matter that some boy called me a bogan? No. Not anymore. Once upon a time it would have – but that’s more about me than anyone else. So, it seems for me that while I have spent 30 odd years trying to stifle my inner bogan, my focus for the next 30 odd years is to embrace who I truly am. This should be fun!
“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.” – Pygmalion (My Fair Lady), George Bernard Shaw