When I was 20 years old, I dressed up as Cleopatra, 'Queen of Denial’ for Halloween. Yes, I know it’s ‘The Nile,” but I was ‘In denial’ about a relationship, so this was funny – back when you could be funny.
I wore the full Cleopatra costume, complete with the eye make up and black wig. It was a costume, nothing more. I never in any way meant for my costume to be racist, nor did I think anyone else would. Cleopatra is a historical figure. I never gave it any thought.
But because I wore this costume when I was 20 years old, I can never run for politics.
I would be afraid that if my opponent got a copy of that picture of me in a Cleopatra costume, they would call me a racist. Every major media outlet in Canada would run it (because that’s what news has evolved in to).
All because thirty-five years ago I wore thick black eyeliner and an Egyptian beaded headband (which is sold in every tourist shop in Cairo).
Keep in mind this is not a religious garment. It is traditional Egyptian clothing that everyone wore at that time.
My Tina Turner tribute.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I dressed up as Tina Turner for Halloween. I teased my hair until it was about seven inches from my scalp, used a full tin of Aussie Scrunch Spray on it (It was the Private Dancer 80s Tina). I wore dark foundation and bright red lips.
In no way was I making fun of Tina. She is my idol. She is my spirit animal. I not only loved this woman. I worshiped her. I still do. My costume was a tribute to a strong woman who helped me through the 80s. If Tina ever came back to St. John’s. I would gladly don my black leather mini skirt, three-inch black patent leather heels, tease my hair and use a full tin of hairspray to keep in in place.
I would never make fun of Tina Turner. I am honouring her.
But because of these costumes I wore thirty-five years ago I cannot run for politics.
It does not matter that I am very passionate about what happens in my community, my province and my country.
If these pictures were to be used by my opponent, my reputation would be destroyed. My children would be dragged through the mud. My husband could possibly lose his job.
And then because I’m a woman, I would also be burned at the stake with the “Oh My God she is a woman who hates other women!” So why would I run for politics at any level?
I am a confident person who could do good things for the community. I am passionate about helping young people succeed.
When I ran a Duke of Edinburgh program there were several young girls in the group. They could not do the overnight hiking component without a female guide. We couldn’t find one. So, I strapped on a 65-litre backpack and hiked the East Coast Trail with them. I hiked ten kilometers a day and slept in a tent at night.
Oh, I also have two titanium rods and six screws in my back and was warned not to do it. But I wanted the girls to succeed so badly, that I said, the hell with it. That’s the type of commitment I bring to kids. (I did have to spend three days in bed afterwards.)
I am a ‘boots on the ground’ organizer, with a track record of doing good work. I would love to bring that to a provincial level. I dream of revamping our education system. I really do.
But why would I want to run for politics only to have my life and my family’s life destroyed? Why would I want to put myself out there so online trolls can make fun of how fat I am, or how skinny I am? Or make death threats against me and my kids?
Maybe this is why the right people don’t run for politics. How can you expect any person to be perfect for their entire life, when we live in such an imperfect world?
Even the Pope has made mistakes throughout his life. But he still gets to be Pope.
We have all made mistakes. I never for a second believed that dressing up as Cleopatra or Tina Turner, two strong women, would be considered racist.
Are we going to judge people by their high school years now? High school is where we learn. It’s where we become passionate about politics or religion or whatever else that interests us.
Now I am not talking about committing a criminal act against another person.
If young people are not allowed to make mistakes, then where do they learn about life?
If you are going to be judged by every picture in your photo album, costumes from school plays and things you did in high school, then we may as well close the government down.
As Jesus said, “Those without sin cast the first stone.”
So put the rock down, we all made mistakes.
If you think you are perfect, then maybe you yourself are Cleopatra the ‘Queen of Denial.”