Book Week is supposed to be a joyous, innocent celebration of our children’s favourite literary characters.
But last week we saw it hijacked by parents intent on using their children as pawns in their own political game.
A Perth mother shared a photo of her nine-year-old son with his skin painted black – dressed as AFL star Nic Naitanui for his school’s Book Week.
The photo went viral prompting criticism of the costume and her ignorance over its upsetting historical significance. People were especially mad as the mum said she knew it was controversial but decided to “grow a set of balls and combat the “politically correct extremists”.
Now a photo has been newly posted to a Facebook fan page for former AFL player Ben Cousins of a little boy dressed up as the ex-footballer wearing a West Coast Eagles guernsey and brandishing his biography.
The WA boy is pictured with a white powdery substance on his nose and his eyes rolled back behind his head to mimic the effects of cocaine use.
It has been widely reported that Cousins suffered a long battle with drug addiction and attended rehab.
The image was captioned: "Check out this little tacker dressing up as the champion AFL legend Ben Cousins for #BookWeek. Powdered nose the works, future all Australian right here."
It so far has attracted more than 20,000 likes and close to 4000 shares, coming just days after the snap of the young Perth both made national headlines."
The Cousins costume has drawn heavy backlash, with commenters labelling the image "bloody disgusting" or "inappropriate ... just ask the people that have lost a loved one to drug abuse if they think the photo is just a bit of fun."
The father, who Mamamia is choosing not to name, defended himself by describing the post as a "piss-take" weighing into the Naitanui issue, telling his critics to "lighten up".
"To put all the butt hurt people at ease - he had no idea why he had flour on his nose and I told him to act silly and I got the pic," the father wrote.
This dad isn't the only parent posting in response to the Naitanui dress-up scandal.
An indigenous mother from Cairns shared an image of her daughter, expressing her "FULL support" for the slammed Perth mum.
She claimed the boy "did not suffer from racism or discrimination, he idolised a man who has achieved great successes."
Calling out "double standards", she posted an image of her own daughter whose face was painted in a Dr Seuss character costume.
"Not once did anyone say anything when I painted my black daughter white 3 years ago, we need to stop the double standards," she wrote.
Her post has attracted more than 28,000 likes and has been shared about 10,000 times.