My View: When tanning breeds a season of Oompaloompas

I haven’t yet watched Orange is the New Black, but I feel like I am living it.

Orange is not only the new black, but the new pink, beige, sallow, peach, gold – in fact just about any skin tone the cosmetic industry can come up with.

A recent trip to a Sydney entertainment event for young people revealed a whole tribe of orange people, both youngsters and mums, who we grew to know as the Oompaloompas. Some had their hair braided so tightly that blinking was a challenge, others wore astonishingly little. Orange skin tones appeared to be a common theme.

What is with the extreme tan? A colleague who is a few decades closer to the target market advised it is simply an effort to appear brown and healthy as those arms and legs emerge from the winter wardrobe. She said this with a not-so-subtle eyeroll as she turned back to her work.

This I can understand. It is healthier than the desperate slathering with baby oil and sun-tanning on the asbestos verandah my mother’s era resorted to.

Never having been within cooee of the height of fashion, I have been content to dazzle fellow beach-goers throughout my life with skin that knows only two extremes – pasty and beetroot.

It could be that orange is the new power colour. Arguably the most powerful man in the world, the US president, is also known as Agent Orange. While some have speculated about a skin condition, the consensus seems to be it is a tanning job gone wrong.

TV presenters, actors, all manner of celebrities are parading their orange selves before us, leading us to adjust our screen settings. Life has become super-saturated.

I am not an avid WAGS watcher, but I did see a little footage of the recent Orangelow – sorry, Brownlow – Medal. It was one of those occasions when some time was spent trying to brighten my screen before being blasted by the glare of Logan Shine’s feathered dress.

As if Australian women are not diminished enough by these glamorous goddesses. We now have to spend hours researching tanning articles titled things like “Orange you glad you don’t look like this?”.

With a bit of luck, this extreme fad will be shelved alongside the ra-ra skirt, parachute pants and matching barbed wire tattoos.

In the meantime, I’ll be going back to Roald Dahl to get a few fashion tips. If Oompaloompas are on our runways, what might be next? Massive caterpillar suits or hobo outfits? I think I’ll play it safe and order a dress in the shape of a giant peach.