What I’ve learned from drag queens

by Carrie Thayer

thayerca@mnstate.edu

The first semester I was in the dorms I came down with the flu—hard. I was a pathetic mess living on saltines and Gatorade. I had never felt so completely alone, but somewhere in my DayQuil haze I stumbled on to this show on Netflix—RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Now, I know that reality television is a shameful creature. No one really wants to watch the dregs of society taking counterproductive actions while tossing around the random, barely sensical catchphrase – or at least they don’t want anyone to know that they do.

But RuPaul’s Drag Race is different. It combines sewing, acting and transformative challenges from amazing artists, while maintaining a tongue-in-cheek view in its format. I could do the hard sell right now, because, you should watch it, seriously, but I’ll try not to (at least not so overtly).

Instead, I’m going to tell you the lessons I’ve learned from drag queens.

You can be whatever you want to be

Really. Every week on the show the queens walk down the runway in new fashions. They create complex outfits, wigs and makeup for a look, and they own the stage. If you’re afraid to get your hair cut or wear a new pair of shoes, just realize that the only person you need to impress is yourself. Make the sidewalk your own runway.

Stop relying on that body

While you should own what you wear and how you look, it’s also important to realize that there is more to life than our exteriors. Often on the show there will be a few contestants who think that they are going to be able to get by on their looks. Then they flail in the first challenge because they don’t have a personality. As Bianca Del Rio said, quoting Judge Judy, “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.”

Lip sync your life off

Okay, so maybe you don’t have to lip sync, exactly, but when it comes down to the wire you need to put your best foot forward. I’ve watched enough lip sync battles to know that you need to give it your all, every time.

Sell yourself

Not literally, but when you produce something, be proud of it and let people know about your accomplishments. A friend of mine built a guitar for one of his musical heroes, but he didn’t want to give it to the person because he felt it wasn’t good enough. I mean — he built a guitar. That’s awesome. RuPaul is never going to shy away from marketing herself as often as possible. She believes in her products (or at least the money she gets from them) and you should, too.

It’s okay to make mistakes

In the wise words of Latrice Royale, “It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down. Get up. Look sick’ning and make them EAT IT.” It’s not the mistake that brings you down; it’s letting you beat yourself up over it. Everyone has messed up one time or another, you need to dust off your shoulders and make yourself stronger than before.

If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?

Can I get an amen?

Really, there isn’t a day the words of one drag queen or another don’t float into my head. They got me through my bout with the flu and they continue to help me to this day. Plus, they’re ridiculously entertaining.

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