Inappropriate Kids Costumes : the Vintage Edition

Recently i was given a bunch of vintage photographs of my paternal ancestors,  going back many generations from postwar Australia to Glasgow, Scotland.   From stiff Victorian studio shots of great great grandparents in Freemason regalia to a scrappy bunch of depression era imps who would look more at home in a Dickens novel, this is a veritable treasure trove of familial wanderings.

And amongst all the rich candid shots, and their ghosts of Christmases past, there are a number of images which struck me, as a 21st century girl, as so incredibly dischordant.  And one of these is this one of my beautiful father and his siblings.

As adorable as this, in all its high waisted, burn-suit-cum-bank-robber-balaclava kitsch, I think the power in this incredible image lies in its  function as a bizarrely symbolic commentary of 1950’s Australia.  Of course no mal-intent would have been intended ( i know my family and they are gracious people) but somehow this image manages to portray a patriarchal, religious & cultural subjugation manifested as parody, that is now so incredibly clearly visable in hindsight.

Of course thats just an iconographical reading, but one can’t help be struck by the unintended visual narrative of an Old Testament figure packing a weapon (ironically David’s sling) towering beside two nervous and awkward looking black and white minstrals…


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