Old Habits are a Drag: On Body Image

Big hair, fertility goddess hips and breasts, eyelashes that coyly punctuate sassy words, long nails and defined muscles: I love me some drag queens.

I don’t even care about the performances—whether lip synching or cutting down audience members.  What I do love is the ideal: the fact that a man is comfortable enough in his own skin that he can put on a dress, make-up and a wig.  He becomes she as a symbol of ultra-femininity, and yet, the masculine traits are still evident.  To me, being able to embody both masculinity and feminine qualities at the same time is the definition of inner strength: of what it means to celebrate the culmination of one’s soul, identity and body.  When I see a drag queen, this is what attracts me. 

I feel the same way about strong women.  Women who can show off their curves and have babies, yet honor themselves with self-care, further education and careers are the most beautiful women in the world.  The strongest.  The ones to emulate. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more beautiful.  When I look in the mirror, my eyes hold their gaze with hard-won wisdom.  Grooves at the corner of my mouth could be mistaken for the first signs of wrinkles but I know they are layers of memory that caused my big mouth to laugh hard and often.  My mind is focused and has been for many years: I work hard at my chosen craft and even though my idea of success doesn’t match up with that of many people I know and love, I no longer feel compelled to defend how I spend my time.  And although I cannot have children, my body is stronger now than ever before because I choose to honor it with good food, dancing and yoga.  I am a strong woman. 

Except for one thing: I hide the very body I revere. 

Hiding my body began in puberty.  Once I began developing, who I was in my head and soul receded in importance.  Boys talked to my chest.  Grown men began circling: once when I was fourteen, I walked into a restaurant with my parents and a man in his forties blocked my way and grabbed me toward him.  A year later, I was assaulted.  Having a feminine body—my own fertility goddess hips and breasts—made me vulnerable.  Life no longer carried even a veneer of safety.  I could not fool myself any more.  My feminine body superseded all of my other dynamic and strong qualities but it also offered me up to the sexual whims of others.  I was an object.  Less than man.  And that pissed me off. 

So, I hid.  

I still do, in fact.  I have no problem walking around naked in front of my husband because him I trust.  But once outside the house, my collection of oversized sweaters and my husband’s sweatshirts will force others to look directly into my eyes.  To see who I am—not with what I am endowed.  This is my defense mechanism.  This is protection.  It works. 

And that is a lie.  It works…sometimes.  The more I become comfortable with my path, my abilities, my creativity and my truth, the more I crave embracing all of me: tits and ass; warts and all; mind, spirit and especially, my beautiful, strong woman’s body.  Lately, each time I cover myself with several layers, they feel like wool, rained upon and heavy.  Musty and old.  My outer appearance is a pugilist with boxing gloves ready to strike while my insides yearn for peace.  Quite simply, I do not match.  I am not as strong as I thought. 

I’m not sure what it will take.  If it is simply shaking off a bad habit and choosing differently, choosing to dress well.  Or if there is more excavation that needs doing.  Or both.  But whatever step I take next, I know these truths: I am masculine and I am feminine; I am intelligent and I have a woman’s body; I am strong and I can embody that strength, if I just allow myself to. 

I no longer have to hide. 

Maybe this photo is a start.  Here I am as a drag queen, Thighs n’ Hot Sauce.  She tickles me. Even though she is overdone and flamboyant, she represents the part of me that refuses to stay buried.  She is my next step.  And if you want to take a similar step, go to http://www.dragulator.com.   

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