This past Sunday, we attended the Comptoirs de France annual Easter Egg hunt event. We went last year as well so this year, when my daughter heard the word Easter in passing, she repeatedly asked if we would be returning to "see the Easter Bunny." Little did I know there would be TWO of them.
I have often wondered how one must feel to dress up in a character costume and entertain kids. My first thought is that it must be extremely hot in there—especially in this balmy spring weather we are enjoying these days in Beijing. Those furry suits are sweat boxes, I’m sure!
My next thought, though, is how dehumanizing it must feel for those whose job it is to wear them. For a few hours on Easter Sunday, two people inside of Eastern bunny costumes (one blue, one grey) were completely invisible as human beings. Kids touched their costumes constantly, without much in the way of shyness, and even occasionally got a bit too close to their personal areas. (See pic below! Oops. That’s my son.)
I saw several kids poking and pulling at their costumes as well. One slightly older child was messing with the blue bunny’s ears by reaching up and covering its costume’s eyes with them, like it was a “torment the bunny” game. Certainly, the play wasn’t malicious, and this didn’t affect the costume-wearer’s vision, considering the eye screens were in the bunny’s smile – but how annoying!
My two-year old son was fascinated by these oversized rabbits. At one point he demanded that I “touch the bunny,” so I mechanically reached out and touched the blue bunny’s hand. In that immediate instant, I knew I had crossed a serious line of decorum. A child willfully touching a “furry” is somehow permissible; an adult doing so feels borderline perverted. And what a disturbing thought to have on Easter Sunday!
As we left to join the other kids for the actual hunt, I passed the bunny I had (now regretfully) touched and decided to address his (or her?) humanity. In Chinese, I said, “That must be quite a hot costume, isn’t it?” and I heard the quintessential Chinese grunt of affirmation echo inside the cavernous bunny head. It wasn’t much of a gesture on my part, but even this minor expression of compassion made me feel more generous somehow (read: less creepy), which is happily more in tune with the holiday’s overall message.
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift