On second thought, I think I’ll stay down here. In the past week I’ve started watching (binging) RuPaul’s Drag Race. This show is Project Runway + America’s Next Top Model + Last Comic Standing + Dancing with the Stars + Lip Sync Battle + Real Housewives Worthy Shade. The obsession is REAL, people! And beyond the fact that these are some of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen, I’m obsessed because these ladies are damn likeable. They are enthralling, amazing individuals, and by watching them I’ve learned a lot. Here are five unforgettable life lessons courtesy of my new favorite queens.
Makeup can be EVERYTHING!
The ladies on this show bake and cake and paint on faces that make them practically unrecognizable, and you know what? They look (and feel) fierce as Hell! They are beatin’ their faces to the heavens! Makeup is transformative and every human being has a right to rock that contouring and pigment intensity! Lately there’s a weird sort of shame that’s been associated with women wearing heavy makeup. Every girl has seen online complaints about females who engage in “false advertising.” You know what you say if someone ever says that to you? You say, do I look like a real estate agent? Am I trying to hawk you some janky “time machine” on Craigslist? No! I’m not, bitch! This isn’t Mad Men and you sure aren’t any Don Draper yourself. Maybe you should try beatin’ your own face sometime. Asshat.
Don’t take yourself too seriously!
Every queen knows that camp is cool. In fact, it’s necessary. Every pageant queen on this show is told told that she needs to embrace the funny. As Michelle Visage often quoth, “Stop relying on that body!” Good drag queens are funny. Period. Plus, they make fun of each other, and themselves, without coming up for air! They aren’t afraid to look silly, a fear that hinders so many human beings. When you loosen up and learn to laugh at yourself, your world truly expands. You become relaxed, more confident, and way more fun to be around. Embrace the camp and embrace the silly. It makes the world a brighter place.
Just because you fight, doesn’t mean you don’t love.
With so much shade being thrown around, the constant calling out of other girls and the never-ending flow of bitchy-jokes, this show sometimes starts to look like the roughest parts of The Real Housewives and AMNT blended together. These ladies fight and it gets dirty. They aren’t afraid to serve the T. (The truth, for you plebes out there.) But you know what happens at the end of the day, or, at the very latest, at the end-of-season reunion? The girls make up. I’ve watched 3.5 seasons so far and the apologies come without fail. Even when two girls are at odds, if one of them has an emotional breakdown the other girl will step up and be there for them. They fight, and they fight UGLY, but at the end of the day they truly do love each other. It’s a good reminder that fighting doesn’t have to break relationships. I know there a lot of families out there who are made uncomfortable by fighting. That means that they don’t really talk about their problems until they’re in make-or-break crisis-mode. I’ve gotten into fights with children from those families, and those children (my peers, don’t worry) truly believed that our friendship was over. Because we had a fight one time. Well, here’s the truth. The people we can fight the dirtiest with, and the ones that we’re most often provoked into mud-slinging against, are usually the people closest to us. We’re more capable of hurting those we hold dear. Fighting, in moderation, is a part of healthy relationships. So long, of course, that you eventually GET OVER IT.
“We get to choose our family.”
This RuPaul quotation, said in reference to the gay community, is really a valuable thing for all of us to remember. The queens have their sisterhood, but I know that I have a socially constructed “family” of my own. While you can’t choose your blood relatives, you can build an amazing support system that will enrich every day of your life. This is why it’s so important to surround yourself with positive, loving human beings. When you face a hard time, community can be everything. Find your family beyond your family. Find your sisterhood. I’ve found mine and let me tell you, they’re the only reason that I’ve remained upright through this past crazy year.
“Water off a duck’s back,” (repeated into infinity)
The mantra of Jinkx Monsoon, my second favorite Drag Race contestant of all time. (All hail Bianca Del Rio!) Jinkx, for a solid amount of time, wasn’t respected by most of the other queens. Especially the pageant queens, as Jinkx is a comedy queen to the max. While her character acting was on point from Day One, some of the judges took weeks to give her truly positive feedback because they didn’t love her costumey looks. She won challenges, but the wins were always tainted with outfit criticisms. That really got to my girl, Jinkx. But you know how she responded? Not by compromising who she was! About halfway through the season, she said into the camera, “When you’re dealing with people judging what you do, you just have to let it roll off like water off a duck’s back.” And from that point on, she would chant, “Water off a duck’s back,” very quietly before hearing critiques. And, in tandem, she exploded and dominated and was goddamn perfect.
It can be scary to be who you are when who you are doesn’t fit the mold. People will judge you. People will make fun of you. People will try to tear you down. But you keep that mantra in your head, keep your sisters by your side, and keep your chin up. There’s a queen in all of us, and I thank Mama Goddess for that.
Love and Feels,
-Ivory Rosebud (aka my drag name, if that was ever an option. Thanks, mom!)