Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the stage… Drag, who has completely conquered the world as we know it.
Thanks to RuPaul and his Emmy Award-winning series RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag queens are now more popular, visible and marketable than ever. Where only a few years ago you could only see queens in gay bars, they are now almost a staple in mainstream media, and probably in the city you live in as well.
While there isn’t just one way for someone to be a drag artist, the art of dragging is inseparable from makeup. There is no better place to see drag’s indelible mark on culture than the aisles of your favorite beauty retailer.
It’s easy to feel like drag was born with the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but gender identity theft has been present in almost every part of recorded human history, including ancient Egypt, China, and Greece. In Shakespearean times, women were not allowed on stage, so men were forced to wear women’s clothes and perform their roles. Even on vaudeville stages, men frequently performed like women.
Dragging is often seen as just men disguising themselves as women, but drag has evolved beyond the idea of female impersonation into larger-than-life characters that transcend and challenge gender, age. and sometimes gravity. RuPaul put it best when he said, “I don’t dress like a woman; I dress like a drag queen!
After more than ten years on the air, RuPaul’s Drag Race introduced a whole generation to not only drag, but the endless possibilities of makeup.
The Evolution of Modern Drag
Many queens originally had to resort to stage makeup in order to get the vivid and vibrant undertones they needed to help them transform into their drag characters. Today, we are lucky to find what is essentially flirtatious makeup in the aisles of pharmacies.
“I think when dragging became more mainstream people started to really embrace color,” said veteran drag Sherry Vine. “This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen bright, vivid colors in makeup (YSL from the ’70s!), But now you frequently see bright colors of purples, oranges, and pinks – love it!”
With today’s access to YouTube and social media, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t looked for a beauty tutorial on how to put on makeup. But before beauty fans had digital tutorials at their fingertips, queens had to learn from each other in bar back rooms before taking the stage.
“Now we have tutorials on YouTube, but in prehistoric times we learned by watching other people and practicing,” says Sherry. “I remember Candis Cayne teaching me to draw my lips over and over again.”
Drag’s Influence on Mainstream Beauty
Take a look at TV ratings and social media engagement and you’ll see that drag queens have followers that rival pop stars. For this reason, drag techniques are adopted in traditional beauty in both open and subtle ways.
Monét X Change, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4, explains: “Just like fashion, drag is very influential in the beauty industry. I’ve worked with so many designers and makeup artists who say celebrities bring Drag Race photos for inspiration!
Willam, a multi-hyphenated artist who appeared in season four of Drag Race before pursuing her career in television, music, and film – most notably in A Star Is Born alongside Lady Gaga – sees the make up people slip every day. “Women have started wearing a lot more eyelashes now, and I think that’s definitely down to drag queens and showgirls. The everyday woman also wants to feel more glamor in her daily life. “
Peppermint, season nine finalist and the first trans woman to play a role on Broadway, said, “Drag is definitely relevant in modern conventional beauty practices. Theories such as contouring and highlighting have found new meaning in everyday beauty, especially eyelashes and lace wigs.
Willam adds, “Drag has always been at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what people do with makeup, injectables and head-to-toe imagery. Drag Queens are the pioneers.
Drag & Popular Culture
The drag can be seen throughout contemporary pop culture as often as possible on a gay bar scene: in the outline often referenced on Kim Kardashian, the crease cut on Megan Thee Stallion, the blush draped over Doja Cat, the lip highlighted on Kacey Musgraves.
“I mean the Kardashians and real housewives wear as much as the average drag queen,” Willam says. “Makeup is makeup. Way Bandy and Kevyn Aucoin were doing to models what drag queens have been doing for years. It’s just more evident now with social media and the Internet being the leads instead of just magazine pages.
Drag queen and DragQueenMerch CEO Biblegirl says she sees flirting as more than just makeup. “At the end of the day, I feel like any audience-facing celebrity inherently leans toward drag. Just being ‘turned on’ or externally perceived on a broad, global level is very drags towards me.
The drag and the beauty are not just parallel to each other. Drag increasingly has a direct impact on the beauty industry, with queens being the faces of campaigns, brand collaborations, and even the launch of their own brands.
Drag’s Relationship with The Beauty Industry
What started with RuPaul as the face of MAC’s Viva Glam campaign has opened the door for other queens to follow in his footsteps. Brands like NYX, Lush, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty have all collaborated or featured drag queens in campaigns. Queens like Willam, Kim Chi, Trixie Mattel and Miss Fame have all launched their own successful beauty brands.
Biblegirl even notes that brands have included queens in direct mail and paid product launch media campaigns, as in the case of Sunday Riley, who works with Shea Couleé, Gia Gunn and Gigi Goode. “I think beauty brands are influenced by flirting even outside of makeup and styling. It has also proven to be an effective branding and marketing tool. I would be remiss if I did not recognize the boom in including pickup personalities being the faces of beauty brand launch PR deployments.
While the drag is characterized by a full coverage complexion and thick contours, Gen Z has focused more on “no-makeup makeup,” clean skin, and leaner beauty. Considering that a large portion of the drag audience is now Gen Z, is the clean skin trend ever found in drag? Season eight winner Bob the Drag Queen thinks so. “For sure. There was a big time when drag was influenced by neutrals and browns, and wet hair has been a huge thing for a while. There’s a lot of intersection between the world of la flirtation and beauty.
Slide and Influence Social Media
Thanks to Instagram and YouTube, consumers and influencers now have the power to set trends and dictate what’s cool and relevant, and a queen’s influence is felt as soon as a new photo is posted.
Naomi Smalls, who has appeared in season eight as well as All Star 4, knows firsthand how the social media post can start a new beauty trend. “With the world of social media, there are drag artists who can leave a huge style impact just by posting a selfie. That mug, look, or wig can end up on a mood board for an upcoming pop diva or runway. Everyone wants to be daring when shooting a music video or performing on stage, so it makes sense to pull some drag. “
Drag & Black Culture
In the same way that drag influences beauty, fashion and pop culture, black culture has been affecting and really creating beauty, fashion and pop culture for even longer. Pop culture constantly steals from black culture, without credit – does drag steal the same from black culture?
“The culture of drag is black culture. I’m a drag queen and I’m black, ”says Bob. “There seems to be this insinuation that homosexuality and black cannot be the same thing. They are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes they are mutual, but not always exclusive. … I think sometimes it’s black culture and drag culture at the same time. Black culture and drag culture are not completely different things.
Monét X Change, who co-hosts a podcast with Bob called Sibling Rivalry, expands on this. “There is a long history of society that appropriates black culture. They tell us not to do it, rip it off us, wear it like a costume, and then they get away with it. It’s a twisted cycle.
If you’re looking for a classic black community trend that has reappeared, let Monet have tea. “The category is: baby hair! I know some who foolishly attribute it to drag culture, but we all know that it is undoubtedly a technique popularized by black and brown communities in the 90s.”
Drag’s Influence on Modern Makeup
The influence of flirtation on beauty goes even deeper than someone recreating an iconic drag look – it is seen and felt in the techniques we use every day, the products that brands bring to market and the way we talk to the consumer, to name a few. a few. The influence of drag on beauty, like drag itself, is constantly evolving, but either way, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
As Miss Fame, season seven contestant and Viktor & Rolf ambassador, explains, “Drag has forever transformed the relationship to makeup as we know it. People from all walks of life find self-celebration through dramatic makeup looks and potentially unleash their human experience beyond any restrictions they have ever known. Drag is a celebration of identity and beyond.
And Willam, as always, sums up the overall impact of drag in a succinct way that only she can. “Do whatever you want and if it doesn’t look right, a drag queen will probably find a way to tell you.”