It's once again time for a tiara-obsessed beauty pageant to remind Australians of the state of our national identity - which is still lost out there somewhere between the outback and the Opera House. The annual Miss Universe competition's national costume has continued to point out that we have no idea who we are.

From Ugg boots, to a peacock cha cha skirt, to diamonte-encrusted fascinators, the previous attempts of Australian designers to summate our culture for the world aren't hard to live up to. And this year's costume isn't Ned Kelly-inspired armour or a Great Barrier Reef-inspired mess resembling a melting oil painting, so we should all be thankful we escaped embarrassment and leave it there.

But how can we let the opportunity to unintentionally take the piss out of ourselves go to waste? The 2012 Miss Australia costume, titled 'The Golden Country' and designed by Sydney-based Jessica Bregenhoj, is a confused masterpiece of Southern-cross inspired gladiator sandals (complete with a 15cm stripper heel), Lady Gaga-esque shoulder pads, and some sort of white pleated fairy wings which were obviously inspired by the sails of the Sydney Opera House. The frock was picked out of 400 options submitted to the competition run by Channel Seven breakfast show Sunrise, and yes, it was a decision made by the public so we only have ourselves to blame, thus proving Australians' collective internal struggle to come to terms with our dire lack of character.

But hey, why so much focus on national identity when at least the costume shows off the fact that this year's Jennifer Hawkins-in-the-making Renae Ayris has the legs of a Goddess? Leave mateship and landmarks aside for a minute and let's appreciate that we are indeed home to such perfectly golden beach babes and call it a day.





Words by Stephanie Squadrito
Photos by Mark Metcalfe for Getty Images.