This week I decided to try something new for my blog challenge. I have invited a special guest to take a crack at writing an insightful post on a topic chosen by my Facebook friends in 24 hours.
Without further ado, I present Christa Yelich-Koth’s take on:
Which is a better role model for children: Drag Queens or Beauty Queens?
I have accepted Oz Monroe’s “Throw Me Under the Bus” challenge as part of my blog tour for my new science fantasy novel, ILLUSION. Of course, it seems as though the topic I’m discussing has nothing to do with my book or science fiction, but it DOES have to do with identity, self-actualization, and faith in oneself, and those themes are as real in my book (the main character is in a completely unknown environment without any of her memories) as the core of any human being.
So here we go!
First off, what are the major distinctions?
Drag queens are traditionally men who dress in over-exaggerated female clothing, hair, and makeup to create a distinctive persona/character.
Beauty queens are women who have entered a contest where the main focus/ one of the main criteria, is physical beauty to be judged.
So as a child, which one is a better role model?
This is a tough one for me. When I was younger, I always enjoyed movies where the meek, shy, “ugly” woman comes out of the shadows, lets her hair down, and we all see how beautiful she really is. She gets the guy (even if he was only a cartoon at the time), she wins the dance contest, she becomes a woman. Etc.
I do remember not liking beauty contests in particular. I didn’t like the idea of beauty being the only thing people cared about. But beauty pageants have evolved. (Cue Miss Congeniality.) They became more about the whole package—physically fit, talented, smart, goal-oriented, and interested in charity. They became a representation of the best of what women could offer—though there was still mainly an emphasis on their physical beauty being part of that. (The male equivalent would become body-building.)
When I was in high school/ college, I became aware of drag queen culture. I attended shows, I knew people who dressed in drag. It seemed an expression of what I believed was their true selves.
But drag does not necessarily mean the individual WANTS to be female.
I learned more about different aspects, about being transgender, a cross-dresser, having a fetish, being homosexual, being an entertainer. It got a little confusing, so I learned to ask the person if I wanted to know more about them.
It comes back to “don’t judge a book by its cover”. (Unless it is a book, because let’s face it, most people won’t pick up a book if it has a crappy cover.) In children, we strive to teach them equality, and yet every person is unique. We want them to understand beauty, but not judge others by our definitions of beauty. We try and show them boy vs. girl, body parts that are different, and yet we want them to find out who they are, regardless of what their physical being shows.
Poor kids! Talk about brain-fried!
So here’s what I think. Children are amazing. They are resourceful, curious, and absorb things like sponges. If you expose them to both beauty queens and drag queens, showing them the positive qualities and negative qualities of both (negative can also include reactions from the public, money spent, emphasis on appearance, etc.) they will ask for more information on their own. They will choose their own role models—you just need to provide a plethora of ones and make sure they are following them for the positive reasons and are well aware of the negative ones.
Learning to be yourself, find yourself, and explore what that means is the toughest job a child can have. Showing them all the options out there will help them do that with more ease. And, guess what, whether they know it or not, it makes the parent a pretty great role model, too. 🙂
In conclusion, I don’t think either is a “better” role model. Each is unique, will bring different aspects to different children, and can influence individual children in different ways.
Christa Yelich-Koth is the author of graphic novel HOLLOW, comic book series HOLLOW’S PRISM and upcoming science fantasy novel ILLUSION from Buzz & Roar Publishing. She has staffed and led a workshop at the Southern California Writer’s Conference, been a panelist at MiniCon, and was co-founder of Green-Eyed Unicorn Comics. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her website is www.christayelichkoth.com.
ILLUSION can be purchased for pre-order (with an exclusive pdf schematic of the Horizon spaceship), at www.buzzandroarpublishing.com/our-books.