By: Claire Nenninger
I’m not ashamed to admit that when one of my roommates first mentioned RuPaul’s Drag Race, I thought it was the vehicular kind of drag race. At first I was disappointed to find this wasn’t the case, but then we watched an episode or two, or seven, and I became obsessed. To start with, it’s fascinating to watch the art form that is dressing in drag. Those ladies are so talented, and I would kill for one of them to do my makeup sometime. The show is more than that though, it’s about an “unconventional” form of self-expression, and a kind of confidence we should all aspire to have. The queens on the show have not had easy lives, but in the end they were able to find and accept themselves for who they are, and in turn they use that fuel to create outfits that are truly fire on the runway.
There are three main things that Georgetown students could all learn from Ru’s queens…
For anyone who understands the feeling you get when watching a makeup tutorial of wanting to drop everything and just get all dolled up even when you have nowhere to go, RuPaul’s Drag Race gives you that feeling times a million. Some of these queens are not the least bit fishy (a drag term for men who can easily pass for women) when out of drag, but once they put on their face, they could win Miss America. As someone who still doesn’t understand what the hell contouring is, I admire them so much for this.
We could also learn a lot from the queens about beauty standards. A true representation of the world we live in, these ladies come in an array of different shapes, sizes, colors and creeds, but each one is celebrated as equal. Yes, the queens cinch, pad, and tuck for the runway, but off the runway they maintain that confidence and finesse, because they know that they can work whatever their mama gave them.
As society becomes more open and progressive, it is difficult to stay on top of what is and is not kosher. When I first was exposed to RuPaul’s Drag Race, I was very confused as to what pronouns to use when referring to the contestants. The queens themselves seemed to typically use “she/her/hers” when referring to each other, but not always. Even in the workroom, when they were out of drag, Ru would call them “ladies/girls/gals” and so on. There are a few rare cases of “he/him/his” however, and this really threw me off.
Luckily I have an informed Cali roommate to educate my drag-ignorant Midwestern self. In general, drag queens use “she/her/hers” when in drag and “he/him/his” when out of drag. The reason this isn’t always the case on the show is because these ladies are competing as their drag personas. We as viewers don’t even know their real names. Since even out of drag they are still on the show as Miss Fame, Trinity K. Bonet, and Adore Delano, and so on, the queens are always referred to by “she/her/hers.”
Personally, I feel like learning to adjust to proper terms and pronouns is a good exercise for anyone. Once you know the words to say, you can participate in discussions about anything without coming off as a prick. In today’s world, we could stand to gain thoughtful discussion just as much as we could stand to lose some pricks.
Every fabulous contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race has a story. And because of the unconventional and often judged lifestyle these queens lead, they are not always happy stories. These girls were often bullied for being different, made fun of for being gay, and ostracized as losers. And that was all before they started doing drag. If they were lucky enough to be accepted as who they were by their families before starting drag, they had to go through the whole process again when they did.
It’s horrifying how many of these women had to rise from the depths of depression, the trauma of estranged fathers or getting kicked out by mothers, and countless other hardships one should never have to face simply because they are “different”.
The miracle of it all is that despite the odds stacked against them, these queens knew who they were inside, and they stuck with it. The fact that they’re on the show at all means they are doing what they love, and they love who they are, even when it’s difficult. After overcoming all of that, those heels may not hurt so badly anymore. Who am I kidding, I’m sure they do…
What everyone should take away from RuPaul’s Drag Race –whether you have seen all 8 seasons, still think a drag race involves a few cars and a lot of exhaust, or are somewhere in between- is that it doesn’t matter what society dictates or that bully on the playground says, you do you. As RuPaul says at the end of every episode,
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”