Friday, July 29, 2011

Lessons From Drag Queens

Last week, I got sick and spent an afternoon on the couch feeling puny. I perked up my day by watching episodes of DragU on Logo. For the uninitiated, RuPaul's Drag Race is his reality show to choose the next drag superstar. DragU is where the best contestants from Drag Race are recruited as mentors for women to help them unlock their inner drag queen.

I have to say, regardless of your personal feelings about drag culture in general, there are lots of lessons they can teach women.

1. Confidence. So many of the women they bring onto the show have absolutely zero confidence in themselves or their appearance. But it's not just them. We are surrounded by these women. We're probably even one of them. If a man in a dress and six inch stilletos can strut out onto a stage exuding confidence and feminine power, by damn, any woman can. You don't have to necessarily believe in it, one hundred percent, but you absolutely need to fake it. A local prostitution bust has proved to me something I've never really let myself believe - men aren't nearly as picky as we think they are. Unfortunately, a lot of men use a woman's low self esteem to gain power and build up their own egos, so don't let that happen to you. The truth is that a confident woman who knows what she has can disguise a lot of flaws and draw the attention she wants the same way a woman is drawn to a confident alpha hero. There's an aura about them.

No one is perfect. Own your power. And strut it, girlfriend. :)

2. The Imporance of Foundation Garments. I know I'm preaching to the converted around here, but I can't tell you how many women are just oblivious. And I'm not even talking about pretty undergarments vs. granny panties. I'm talking basic fit. They haven't been sized for a bra since their mom took them at sixteen. They're busting and oozing out of every side, most especially the backfat they can't see. They think underwire is some kind of circus act. They wear sports bras when they are not, in fact, playing sports. You must have well-fit and flattering undergarments or even the fanciest, priciest outfit at Bloomingdales will look awful.

Then there's the discussion of shapewear. Drag queens don't have waists or hips. They have to sculpt them using corsets and padding. Heck, I've even seen them use a 'ghetto corset' which involves wrapping the waist with saran wrap, then duct tape. Never underestimate the power of duct tape. Most of us ladies don't need to add any padding to get curves, but the glorious Spanx or other lines of girdles and such can help smooth out the lumps and let clothing wear better. Modern shapewear is a lot more comfy these days that what your grandma used to wear, but I have to say I get nostaligic sometimes for the long line bras with the pointy cups that let those tight little 50's sweaters fit so gloriously.

And, since we're on the topic, there is something to be said for pretty bras and panties. I think wearing a pretty (not uncomfortable, but pretty) matching set with a little lace or satin can go a long way in boosting a woman's confidence, even if no one sees it but her.

3. Embracing Femininity. For some reason, I have "It's Great Being A Girl" in my head right now. Okay, now I know painful heels and digging bra straps leave something to be desired. A t-shirt and a pair of sweats with a pony tail can feel like the best outfit ever. The danger is in letting that take over or using it to hide behind. I will admit I'm the first to go to jeans and a t-shirt. I've never been much of a primper. My cousin takes nearly an hour and a half to get ready in the morning (that was to go siteseeing in NYC) and I think that's a little much for everyday. But I can pull it out when I need to. I think I need to more often. Its just easier to put on whatever when I know no one really cares. But I should care.

Put a sexy outfit and heels on a woman and watch her whole carriage change. If she's rusty, yes, she's going to bobble along and fidget, but if she's wearing something that really suits her, eventually it will evolve into a saucy sashay. Drag queens are masters of illusion and they know what to wear and how to make them look more feminine. Heels make your legs look longer and thinner. The right length of skirt can make you look leaner and taller. There's an art to it, but every woman should know what she looks best in and how to work her body, in whatever shape and size, to her advantage. Women should feel good in their clothes.

4. Posture. As I sit here, slumped over my keyboard, I know I'm guilty. Unless I'm posing for a picture where I mentally tell myself to stand up straight, suck in the gut, push out the girls and tilt the head up to avoid double chins, I usually pay no attention to it. I strut around in the mirror in an outfit, sucking it in to see how it looks, but then wear it all day without so much as holding my breath. I'm just fooling myself. Recently, one of the drag queens looked at his girl and said, "damn girl, posture!" And he was right. The Harvard graduate looked like a hunched over troll. Once Mariah was done with her, the girl was standing tall and ended up winning. I think part of the importance of heels is that it does affect your posture and for the better. You have to work harder to keep your balance and it brings everything up and into alignment.

5. Behold the Power of Eyeliner. There's a transformative power in make up. If the right makeup can turn a scruffy Puerto Rican man into a Latino Princess, imagine what it can do on an actual woman! I think most women just don't know how to put make up on properly. They don't know how to accentuate and highlight to make them look their best. Each face is different and how the makeup goes on is different. I wish they'd spend more time on that on the show. That seems to be something they skim over. Trade secrets, I suppose.

That's all I have for today, although I'm sure there's much more to learn at their platform-heeled feet. To the right is Raven, one of my favorites, although she can be quite harsh (she would say she's keeping it real.) She shows me up in a swimsuit. Got any other tips from drag queens? What about you? Are you guilty of letting your femininity slack? I know I am.


Cheryl said...

Wow! I agree SP. We all need a little kick in the posterior to remind us to think about ourselves. I have been bemoaning the state of my underwear lately. Okay, so I shall confess, I have never been in Victoria's Secret. It intimidates me (no laughing here). A twenty-something girl who brings her son to swim at my house was listening to me and she declared that Monday she is taking me to Victoria's Secret, no hedging. So I shall get some frilly things and hopefully be in a better fitting bra!

And yes, all those drag queens show me up in a bathing suit!

Instigator said...

I really wish I could watch the show! I used to have the channel but lost it when I turned off the movie channels we never watched. I might have kept them if I realized Logo was in the package.

I have to admit I hate make-up. I wear it when I have to and am decent at putting it on, but I'm sure there are tricks I'm not aware of that would make me look better. I just don't have the time or inclination to learn them. Maybe next year before conference we should bring a make-up artist into the HOD meeting for some lessons.


Playground Monitor said...

I've never seen that show but I am familiar with RuPaul and am amazed at the before and after. And if you've ever seen the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" you can see a fine example of smoke and mirrors in Lady Chablis. It should be illegal for a man to look that good.

Yeah, I schlep around in old clothes and no make-up. But I do try to look somewhat decent when I go out in public. And I'll have you know I bought new bras a couple days ago (TMI, I know). They're not from Victoria's Secret. I went there once and I just don't like theirs.

I agree about the make-up lessons for HOD. And if that's not possible, YOU could give us private lessons because we always turn to you and say "Would you do my eye makeup???"

Problem Child said...

I want a fairy dragmother. I want that boost of confidence (and the makeup/wardrobe tips). If you can figure out how to get us on DragU, I will be your bestie!

Playground Monitor said...

Fairy dragmother. LOL!

Can we all get one?