Finding a Fairy Drag-Mother

“Walking with your chest out and your head held high says you have earned the right to stomp and pummel this particular piece of real estate.”

― RuPaul

 Growing up and watching Disney’s Cinderella, I longed to have a fairy godmother to transform me. With the assistance of fairy godmothers, young lead females can morph from everyday frumps to gorgeous socialites. These women not only find their Prince Charming, but eventually find that their beauty, strength, or magic exists within and not from without.

In the annual British holiday pantomimes, one of the lead roles is generally played by a drag queen character. It doesn’t matter if the play is Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or Beauty and The Beast. A lead is in drag. These are performances meant to entertain the entire family. It’s not looked at as peculiar, or even trendy. It’s actually simply the norm. People rejoice and sing along to the beloved plays that are splashed with familiar pop songs.

Drag Queens are fascinating and engaging. They carry this sense power in their over the top personalities. There are no apologies for having out of this world alter egos. All is embraced. We have so much to learn from exploring this world. And so I slowly dipped into it.

This year, I have caved in and began watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. Although, the show is currently in it’s 11thseason, I haven’t watched it until now. What lured me in is one of the top contestants was a friend from high school. He was actually a date to one of my high school dances. I saw her once in our 20s perform in Nina’s adopted hometown of Columbus Ohio, and ever since then I’ve been watching Nina West from my social media updates, and I can’t help but burst with pride in seeing an old classmate glam it up with Lady Gaga, Adele, or to be given a shout out by Sia. And now she’s on RuPaul.

As I watch Nina and her colleagues compete it out each week, I can’t help but be fascinated by their confidence. They strut their stuff down the runways, blurt out how fabulous they are, and are completely theatrical in their clothes, makeup, and facial expressions. I had taken burlesque classes this past year, and what we are trying to exemplify are basically drag queens…alter egos, confident walks, free style dance moves, intoxicating gazes, creative and unique costumes. There’s one more similarity between these types of shows. The most beautiful part about going to both drag and burlesque shows is the supportive audience.

It takes vulnerability and courage to express yourself (even if it is your alter ego) on stage. All forms of beauty are appreciated. We want those onstage to succeed. Live it up for us. The bigger your confidence, the more intoxicating the performance. Watching a powerful queen on stage, acts as fairy dust for the audience. The show reminds us that we too have this fierce power and unencumbered beauty within. If they can access it, so can we.

I know I’m not the only one to make this claim. This year’s film Dumplin featured the lead character, Willowdean, as a slightly overweight, self-deflating high schooler whose mother was beauty pageant queen Jennifer Anniston. Willowdean learned to find power and strength from two particular aspects: Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton drag queens. They physically showed her to exude femininity, presence, and power through mentoring her during the film.

As I continue to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race season and root for Nina West, I am realizing perhaps the fairy drag-mother is not a fictional concept. She may actually exist. Through watching her perform, I know that the magic bottle of confidence, beauty, sass, and strength is available from within.

“If You Can’t Love Yourself How In The Hell Are You Gonna Love Somebody Else?”-RuPaul

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The Frida Archetype

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”-Frida Kahlo

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Throughout the past several years the world has seen an increase of Frida Kahlo paraphernalia. This has been more than the Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, or Marilyn Monroe images that you see in the stores or on people’s walls.  Why is this?

Frida has shifted from being an ordinary person to becoming an archetype.  Her image stands for individuality, strength in diversity and color, beauty in authenticity, acceptance, power, and all encompassing woman-hood.  In addition to the touring exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s clothing, artwork, photography and belongings that has travelled from Mexico City to London and New York, there are works of art being created about her.  While in South Florida last week, an opera entitled Frida was being shown at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts.  In London, the English National Ballet is offering a piece entitled She Persisted, based on Frida.

Frida is famous for saying that she is her own muse, but over time she has become muses for numerous others.  Clothing, pillow cases, canvas bags, ballet pieces, opera, and in our own homes and offices.  I recently went into a medical staff member’s office on a military base.  This active duty member’s wall was lined with a Frida Kahlo fabric over her window.  Kahlo is contagious and is everywhere.

The image of Frida means something to us.  We find we can harness our own power by observing how she conquered adversity in her life.  Throughout the tragedies that befell upon her such as miscarriages, infidelity, and numerous physical horrendous medical ailments, she prevailed.  She did not overcome one struggle after another quietly, she immersed herself by telling her story through her art work.  Her art was fueled by her strife.  Some of her work sends pain to our wombs solely by looking at it, without knowing the whole story.  Despite this, she did not wallow in misery.

When many of us are feeling down and self-loathing, we may opt to decrease care for ourselves. We wear frumpy clothes, no make-up, dark and muted colors to portray our moods.  In times of joy or strife, Frida turned up the diva dial, and beautified herself.  She graced her body with beautiful jewelry, her hair with bold bright flowers, flowing petticoats and traditional Mexican attire.  Even during the later years, when she was confined to staying home due to her medical illness, she still got dressed up. The medical corsets she was prescribed to wear by her doctors, were exemplified with artwork.  The shoes that she wore were beautiful and fabulous, even if it covered her one amputated leg.

The Victoria And Albert Museum labeled their recent exhibit of this artist as “Making Herself Up.”  And she did, and it was not for anyone else. The act of dolling up was for herself.   If I was going to use spiritual lingo for this, she cherished and honored herself by adorning the divine within.  She made herself up as a goddess to be revered, if only for her own pleasure and enjoyment.   Now in some ways she is worshipped as a goddess by others worldwide, decades after her death.

When we observe someone, who takes pride and solace in adorning themselves in the midst of pain, we know they are aligning with the highest part of themselves…the divine feminine. The divine within lifts us to emerge onto the other side stronger, wiser, and with more grace.  We turn to Frida, as she is a reminder that this is a possibility for us.  We too are capable of finding beauty, art, and dignity in the midst of whatever is arising in our everyday lives.

Therefore, the next time you see a Frida image, tell yourself that she is not just a symbol of an artist, feminist, or fashion icon.  She is an archetype of a strong female warrior.  Frida serves as a reminder of the divine feminine that exists within.  It’s available to you, all it takes is work to honor and adorn your own external temple in joy and sorrow.  Make yourself up.  You are worth it.

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

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Florida Grand Ballet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwasg3ULORQ

 

English National Ballet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=67&v=RFtuWuKIWVk