This is an honest piece about my struggles with self-love and acceptance and the unlikely source of therapy I found while bingeing on Netflix.
Have you ever watched RuPaul’s Drag Race? Up until the start of this year, it had completely flown under my radar. I would see people talking about it on Twitter but had never watched a single episode. Over time though I realised that it was a cultural phenomenon and it’s memes were taking over the internet. Intrigued I started watching it on Netflix. And so began a personal journey of self-discovery.
For the uninitiated, RuPauls’s Drag Race is a hybrid of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway but with the added fabulousness of Drag Queens. There is plenty of drama and shade but with lots of humour and an amazing showcase of talent. These Queens know how to put a look together and make it work on the runway. RuPauls’s Drag Race is the perfect accompaniment to a lazy Sunday on the couch.
So how did such a show make me question my very being? It was all because of a question RuPaul says at the end of every episode – “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” The first time I heard this, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I’m currently single. Generally, it’s not something I give a lot of thought to. I’ve had previous relationships so I know I’m not undateable. But at times, I do wonder when will I fall in love again. So hearing Ru utter this phrase made me think – do I love myself?
Do I love myself? As this question bounced around my mind, Netflix was already playing the next episode. But I wasn’t ready to watch, I was coming to the realisation that I’m not in love with myself. And this awareness hit me hard.
I’m a very confident and generally positive person. I’ve achieved a lot in life. I did well in school, have a Masters, have a full-time job and started my own business – I generally just have my shit together. I’m lucky to have some great people to call close friends and a family I can always rely on for support.
So why don’t I love myself? That’s a question that is difficult to answer. I think the amount of negative self-talk that goes on inside my mind has played a large role. I am my own worst enemy. The things I say to myself – I would never utter about another person. I constantly critique myself on how I look and how lazy I am. The person inside my mind bears no relation to the person I portray to the rest of the world. My mask is always on and only slips when I’m alone. When I had this realisation, I started to monitor the self-chatter that goes on inside of my mind every day and was horrified that it was rarely positive when I thought about myself.
Eventually, I started to watch the rest of the Drag Race series and realised that it provided many of the answers I needed to start loving myself.
So if you are struggling with self-love and acceptance – let the Queens give you some life lessons.
Be confident in your abilities
Every season of Drag Race there are contestants that struggle to sew, yet they are expected to create jaw-dropping outfits. These drag queens use whatever they have on hand and copious amounts of hot glue to create a costume. They rarely make excuses, instead, they have an inner belief that they can do this. When they walk down the runway, it’s their confidence that hides the not so well put together parts of their outfit. Concentrating on your assets is what helps you overcome dwelling on your flaws.
Stop relying on your body
This is a critique that many judges make to various contestants. These drag queens usually have slim attractive bodies and are used to having their bodies be the key to their success previously. As a fat woman, I’ve turned this advice around – Stop using your body as an excuse! I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve often thought ‘sure what’s the point in flirting with that guy, he’s not going to be into fat girls’. But that’s an excuse, a way for me to protect myself from rejection. It’s easier to believe this than put myself out there. There is no way I can know of people’s preferences. By spinning my own narrative on someone else, I’m stopping an opportunity for that person to get to know me. And I’m slowly realising that I am a person worth knowing!
You need to be a C.U.N.T.
In RuPaul’s world, you need Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent to get ahead. There is nothing here about looks, it’s all about how you package yourself to the world. If I want to find love, I need to focus on these aspects of myself, not constantly jumping on a scales hoping that a certain number will be the key to happiness and love. Next time you need a reminder – sing this at the top of your lungs!
Lip synch for your life
At the end of every episode, two Queens have to do battle and lip synch. The Queen that wins, gets to stay in the competition. From watching all these battles I now realise that you can never give up. It’s the Queen that gives it her all that lives to fight another day. If I want to find love, I just can’t give up in my search. I need to show up, put a brave face on and just go for it. Love is out there for me to find, I just need to keep going.
So remember “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” How are you working on self-acceptance and self-love? If you have any advice or stories I’d love if you’d share them in the comments below.