Hi, my name is Jocelyn and I am newly obsessed with *cue music* *RuPaul’s Drag Race* *Start your engines*. I love the glitz, the glam, the shade of it all. But for a phenomenon intended to obliterate gender barriers, they sure do a good job at policing images of both male and female body expectations. Between the Pit Crew and the reading your body-ody-ody to filth, harmful ideas of beauty and acceptability precipitate. Let’s spill this tea.
Photo Courtesy of Out Magazine
In a community that has constantly been attacked for their sexuality, I can understand how proudly expressing your attraction to another man is liberating. I completely support this expression. Have all the thirst, Queens! What I take issue with is the very limited body types reflected in the “hunky” Pit Crew. I have never been a gay man on Grindr, but I can’t help but think of Kimchi’s reunion performance of “Fat, Fem, & Asian” which directly addresses the common profile descriptions found on the app like “no fats, no fems, no Asians.” The inclusion of this message shows that these Queens know this kind of racist, sexist, body shaming isn’t merely having a “type”, it’s built on hateful assumptions about people. Keeping this in mind, The Pit Crew, meant to embody the gay dream boy, should also reflect diverse bodies. Drag is a break from constrictive societal norms, why should the ideal body mirror Abercrombie & Fitch models and no one else. Women have come to demand more representation in their models, I think Drag Race should have the same outcry. Yes, the current Pit Crew is beautiful, but that’s not the only way to be beautiful.
When Opening the Library Means Open Season on Body Shaming
Photo Courtesy Buzzfeed
Mama Ru accepts a diverse group of Queens every season, I won’t argue with that. They come in sizes big and small, with every beautiful skin tone you can imagine, even Dorito orange if you’re Coco Montrese. You can be a little Queen like Jujube or big like Latrice Royale, just know that if you are a big Queen you will have to hear about it over and over again. This extends beyond the confines of the competition. On the S9E8 episode of The Pit Stop, a Youtube Drag Race aftershow, host Raja tells reigning Queen Bob The Drag Queen, “If you don’t want someone to laugh at you for being fat, then just don’t be fat.” BTDQ prefaced with saying, “If we can make fun of Roxxxy Andrews for being abandoned at a bus stop by her mom. why do you think your weight is off limits.” I can’t argue that Katya’s All Stars 2 bus stop joke was more than a little risky, but any objection Roxxxy could have followed with should have been accepted. So in S9E9 Alexis Michelle’s upset at the lackluster “Pillsbury” joke should also be heard, because that isn’t about not being able to take a joke. What Farrah did was rely on a system dedicated to putting specific bodies down. Delta Work said it best, “If all they can read is my size then that’s so obvious. Now tell me something funny.”
“Hog Body” and the Requiring of Corsets
As a plus size woman, I personally don’t wear shapewear. I recognize the aesthetics they bring and am happy for anyone who wears it because it is truest to themselves. I am happy to have the inclusion, but I seriously disagree with the requirement. Adore Delano is one of my favorite Queens. She beautifully challenges the neatly polished aesthetic of drag by adding a healthy dose of grunge that Michelle Visage often saw as sloppy (read: bad). This included a weekly reminder to corset that “hog body” (and yes, get dresses that hit the floor). If you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with some slop. Pageant Queens are just one facet of drag, why not let a little mud trek onto the runway. Though Adore admitted she knew she should have been wearing a corset, to me the requiring of one in the first place reinforces a specific female body ideal. The hourglass shape here is the pinnacle of female beauty and even men in drag should aspire to that standard. Here, like with the Pit Crew, I feel an act of rebellion has merely bought into toxic societal norms. Women and Queens alike should be allowed to exist in whatever shape they are, VBO and wide core included.
Taking Beaking the Rules Even Further
Honestly, I am ready and waiting for the day we see even more diversity in Drag Race. I want to see Queens with (dis)abilities and Bio-Queens. I want to see a scrawny and round-bellied Pit Crew members. I want there to be a celebration of bodies at the place that’s supposed to celebrate diversity the most. As Supermodel of the World and the ultimate Drag Superstar, Mama Ru has a responsibility for the representation of her show. She is the opening the world of drag to millions of viewers. Saying drag is a space for all isn’t enough. Misogyny and body shaming have no place in this community, and it’s presence holds back the message of Drag Race. Because remember, if you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else. Can I get an amen?