“We’re all born naked and the rest is drag” – RuPaul
I love this quote from the drag queen RuPaul. Not because I secretly love drag, but because I love what it says about our identity…or identities, plural. It’s so true for so many of us – myself included – that we go through a whole series of identities throughout our lives.
Our sense of who we are is constantly changing and evolving. The clothes we wear, the music we listen to, our job titles, our family roles, our personalities and values all change and evolve through time and life experience. Condensing all of that down into one word: Drag – I think is brilliant!
The word drag, to me, says play. It says fun. It says “don’t take it all so seriously”. It says “don’t hold back…be creative….don’t care about what others think…express yourself whichever way you want to”. It says “treat it all as play…as dress-up!”
I remember, as a kid, playing with my toys and pretending to become the action figures I was playing with – mimicking their voices, making sound effects, basically transporting myself into those characters. Or, as an adult, putting on fancy dress costumes – especially at university. I remember how much fun that was – because no one was taking themselves seriously. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s like we had a free ticket to make fun of and laugh at each other and ourselves – knowing that it’s not really “them” or “me” that we’re making fun of – it’s the just the character…the costume. The real me is underneath the costume.
Or is it? If you think about it, the costume never really comes off. Yet we pretend that the costume is us and forget that it’s just dress-up. We become obsessed with comparing costumes and wondering why theirs is better. We try to copy what they’re wearing, outdo them by making an even better costume, or we just sit in the corner of the party nursing a drink and feeling sorry for ourselves. Or maybe you’re so in love with your costume that you desperately cling to it – trying hard to keep them in tact because of the protection, the safe-feeling, maybe even the status we think they give us.
Basically, we take ourselves and others way too seriously. While the real versions of us – the “naked” ones underneath – never stop laughing and having fun. So I say: Be the naked one and don’t forget you’re playing dress-up.
When you treat it all as play, as pure creativity, as playful self-expression, life feels fun. It feels enjoyable. So just have fun in your costume – until the next one comes along, and then the next one, and then the next one…you get the point.