Embrace: Self-Esteem Ambassador

Jill left a comment on a post the other day that really struck a chord with me.  Her statement was simple but perfectly phrased, and 100% representative of how I’ve been feeling lately.  Quoth she:

I really look forward to a day when people stop judging others value/worth on appearance, and I hope to be able to keep being a part of the movement toward that dream.

Wanting to keep being a part of working toward this goal of redefining beauty and “healthy”, helping others to realize how worthy they are of their own love and the love of others, and increasing awareness of eating disorders and all the psychological repercussions of the narrow standards to which we tend to hold ourselves has become a real driving force for me lately.  Consequently, I’ve become much more sensitive (and I was pretty sensitive to begin with) to what others are doing to work toward this goal as well.  Crusading for the self-esteem and self-confidence of others can be a hard job, so I thought it might be nice to recognize those who are doing that job in spite of its difficulty, those individuals who are self-esteem ambassadors.  Of course, when I say ‘recognize’, unfortunately I don’t mean with a fancy award or a lot of money.  All I really mean is that I want to write about what those people are doing here on my blog.  And give them the title of Self-Esteem Ambassador.  Sure, it’s nothing fancy, but maybe it will be one more step in the effort to shed light on how to treat people (and ourselves) with more love and positivity than we currently do.

RuPaul in New York City in 2008.

Image via Wikipedia

I am pleased to announce our very first Self-Esteem Ambassador: RuPaul!!  Now, RuPaul has always been undeniably amazing–tall, gorgeous, witty, charming, and impeccable–and undeniably confident and self-assured.  In drag and out, he is a model of all the best qualities a person could have.  In both RuPaul’s Drag Race (now in its 3rd season) and RuPaul’s Drag U (gearing up for its 2nd season), he’s a father- and mother-figure to the contestants, always a source of support and encouragement.

If someone were to read a description of either of the two shows I mentioned above, they might think of them as totally frivolous.  That’s fair, they’re reality tv competition shows, all of which have some kind of frivolous quality to them.  But unlike a lot of other reality tv competitions, both these shows have heart and soul.  This is not just men putting on make-up, dresses, and high heels, and lip-synching on a stage (or having women do the same in the case of Drag U); for many of these men and women, this is a way for them to get in touch with an aspect of themselves that makes them feel strong, secure, and in control.  Countless Drag Race contestants talk about how awkward and out-of-place they felt in their communities until they started doing drag.  As soon as they began experimenting with drag, they found confidence that they had previously lacked, and developed a comfort with themselves that they hadn’t had before.  Now, sure, RuPaul didn’t invent drag.  But he did create a mainstream arena in which it, and the people who do it, can be celebrated.  In recognizing drag as an artform, RuPaul is acknowledging that these are people who deserve to be seen, heard, and loved.  At their core, neither show is about who’s prettiest, or who does the best lip-synch, or who has the highest heels; ultimately, it’s about helping people feel good about themselves, no matter what.

This is especially apparent in Drag U, where women are put through their drag paces in order to discover their inner diva.  These are women who come in saying they’ve given up on themselves.  The show does very little to change them–there is no plastic surgery, no weight loss, nothing extreme.  Just some make-up, wigs, and fabric.  But the transformation is incredible because so much effort and attention has been put into helping these women realize that they are worth being treated well, that they deserve to love themselves, and they deserve to feel beautiful regardless of what anyone else says.  When they leave Drag U there is nothing different about them except the fact that they’ve had a huge self-esteem boost, courtesy of RuPaul.

If I could meet RuPaul I would want to sincerely thank him for the work he has done to promote self-acceptance and self-love.  I wish more tv shows had such a positive message, and I hope that the ones I’ve mentioned here will serve as an example for television in the future.  It doesn’t have to be cruel, it doesn’t have to ridicule people, and it doesn’t have to conform to a ridiculous standard of beauty.  Thanks, RuPaul, for showing us what can be done, and for helping us to come one step closer to that day where appearance is no longer thought of as an indication of a person’s worth.

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  1. I’m glad my comment struck a note with you… and I love the whole idea of a Self-Esteem Ambassador. I’ve never seen RuPaul’s shows, but your description of them sounds great. I’ll have to see if I get that channel!

    1. They are great shows and really fun. You can actually watch them all (including previous seasons of Drag Race) online through the Logo website (www.logotv.com).

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