My favorite guilty pleasure of the past couple years has been the drag competition shows. "RuPaul's Drag Race" and "RuPaul's Drag U" bring a little glitter, glamour and pizzazz into my living room on a weekly basis.
The premise of Drag U was to have drag queens teach women how to unleash their inner divas. Both shows can teach gals a thing or two about gaining some confidence and releasing the fierce star within. Here's 10 tips about womanhood I've learned from Ru and crew.
#1. It's OK to Laugh At Yourself
RuPaul was a great sport on season two of "Drag Race" and was touched rather than offended when contestant Jessica Wild chose to portray Ru during a celebrity drag version of "Match Game." The breakout start of season two, Pandora Boxx was the funniest contestant. She knew she wasn't a glamorous fashion girl, so she chose to strut the runway in humorous creations and ended up walking away with the Miss Congeniality title.
#2. The Higher the Heels, the Better
Judges Santino ("Drag Race") and Lady Bunny ("Drag U") would deduct points from scores if contestants were wearing flats or low heels. Something about those extra inches really does encourage confidence. Walking in stilettos may be a pain, but the opportunity to stare others down from your new lofty position is priceless.
#3. You Can Be Fabulous at Any Size
An episode titled "Plump and Circumstance" brought three plus-size women to "Drag U." These gals walked away feeling great about their curves. On season two of "Drag Race," contestant Mystique made no apologies for her love of a two-piece and a biscuit meal from Popeye's. It doesn't matter if the gold lamé dress is a size 2 or a size 20 – if it's worn with the right attitude, it will be beautiful on any body.
#4. If You Forget the Words or Steps, Just Smile and Look Like You Know What You're Doing
Lip sync competitions were involved in every episode of "Drag Race" and "Drag U." If divas forgot the lyrics or messed up the dance moves or even took a spill on the runway, their scores weren't affected if they could pick themselves up and look like they were having fun.
#5. It's Never Too Late to Awaken Your Inner Goddess
On "Drag U," a number of the season's contestants were over age 50 and convinced that they had missed the boat on bringing a little glamour into their lives. These women all proved to be knockouts by the show's end, especially 72-year-old Dawn Wells of "Gilligan's Island" fame. When she walked onstage in her drag persona of Chickadee, she nailed it. Mary Ann never looked sexier.
#6. Don't Be Afraid to Break Down Stereotypes of How You Are Perceived
From tomboys to women with blue-collar jobs, the "Drag U" contestants learned to ignore demeaning remarks from others about their appearances. These gals embraced feathers, sequins and sparkle, proving that with a little self-confidence anyone can shine.
#7. You Can Get All Dolled Up and Still Be Yourself
One of the best things about "Drag U" was that, unlike traditional makeover shows where women are often forced to retire their signature style for something more conventional, participants were encouraged to put their true selves into their drag personas. This was evident when contestant Laura incorporated her secret talent of hula-hooping into her runway presentation.
#8. Women Should Celebrate Each Other's Victories
OK, I have to admit that "Drag Race" had its share of catfights and tongue lashing. (The feud between season two's Raven and Tatianna was epic.) However, there were some touching moments when fellow contestants were truly ecstatic for the victories of their competitors. One of the show's most powerful moments was during season one when Ongina won the Mac Viva Glam competition (the winner would be a spokesperson for Viva Glam's charitable contributions toward helping people living with HIV) and opened up about being HIV positive. The other contestants were supportive and enthusiastic for her win.
#9. It's Not Selfish to Take Time for Yourself
Tyra Sanchez, the winner of season two of "Drag Race" was balancing the duties of being a dad on top of the competition. A recurring theme on "Drag U" was women spending so much energy on their families and careers that they had neglected themselves. The shows encourage contestants to make a little Me Time in their lives. As RuPaul said, "If you don't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?"
#10. Being Feminine Doesn't Mean Being Demure
Drag queens are the perfect role models for women. They not only teach us about elegance and poise, but they help us grow some balls.