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UAL Research Online

"She's a Woman!" Femininity, Reality Television and the Transformational Experience of Drag

Hitchcock, Fenella (2019) "She's a Woman!" Femininity, Reality Television and the Transformational Experience of Drag. In: New Reflections on Fashioning Identities: Lifestyle, Emotions & Celebrity Culture, 14 June 2019, University of Roehampton.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Hitchcock, Fenella

This paper seeks to discuss the cultural figure of the drag queen as fashion, beauty and lifestyle guru. It situates this in relation to a broader phenomenon of the ‘mainstreaming’ of drag and queer culture, as well as other instances of reality television and make over shows hosted by LGBTQIA+ identified people.

It largely focuses on episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 – present), particularly the ‘make over challenge’ which has been embedded into each season of the show. Existing scholarship has highlighted that Drag Race, as a parody of reality television, has the potential to both destabilise and reinforce neoliberal ideas and cultural norms (Daggett 2017) and also raised concerns around the implications of dragging cisgender women as part of these challenges (LeMaster 2015). This paper analyses instances where contestants have been paired with women, both strangers and friends/family members, and asked to transform them into drag queens. It questions what these texts tell us about what women can ‘learn’ about femininity from drag queens but also highlights the way in which these challenges can go part way to explaining the appeal of Drag Race (and indeed drag more generally) for women, particularly an ever-growing fan base of teenage girls.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 14 July 2019
Event Location: University of Roehampton
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 15:38
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 15:38
Item ID: 17285
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/17285

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