Mainstream beauty norms exclude RuPaul, a famous drag queen. Her exclusion is worth examining because through it, we see the response of beauty norms and its gatekeepers to gender non-conformance among communities of color. Simply put, beauty norms respond badly to this gender non-conformance. I present the reader with the image below created by John Cuneo following RuPaul’s interview with The Atlantic:
The inspiration of Cuneo’s image is RuPaul’s 1993 performance on the National Mall for the 1993 Gay and Lesbian March on Washington. At this performance, RuPaul wore an American flag top and performed her first major hit “Supermodel.” Please watch the first two minutes of the video and observe RuPaul’s outfit. I will assume the reader has watched the performance past this point.
The image presented by Cuneo differs from RuPaul’s presentation of herself when it comes to the presentation of racial and gendered features. Cuneo’s image applies stereotypes of black women to RuPaul, which he does by giving RuPaul “full lips and noses” (Ford, 53). RuPaul’s lips have their “fullness” exaggerated in Cuneo’s picture as in her performance, they are not anywhere near as full as portrayed in Cuneo’s image (Ford, 54).
Furthermore, Cuneo modifies RuPaul’s self-portrayal by removing the clothing that concealed her legs in the original performance. Cuneo draws legs for RuPaul, which he then draws as being wrapped around the Washington Monument. The placement of RuPaul’s legs around the Washington Monument plays on the stereotypical image of black women’s bodies as “grotesque, strange, unfeminine, and lascivious,” as does the portrayal of RuPaul’s lips (Hobson, 87).
Cuneo’s image, whether intentional or not, also comments on RuPaul’s gender non-conformance. Cuneo taps into social anxiety about “disruptive bodies” through his representation of RuPaul’s genitalia (Hobson, 88). Cuneo does so by drawing RuPaul with a perfectly tucked body which sends home the message about her womanhood. However, he paradoxically places the Washington Monument in such a spot that it can also be interpreted as a replacement for a penis. Thus, Cuneo portrays RuPaul as ‘disruptive’ due to her non-performance of gender, as both RuPaul plays both female and male gender roles. In doing this, Cuneo draws an image that appears grotesque because of RuPaul’s blackness and her gender non-conformance.
Why RuPaul is portrayed as grotesque, which paradoxically occurs within an article explaining why her drag is the perfect response to Trump, should be explored. This response occurs because RuPaul cannot sell “whiteness, modernity, sophistication, beauty, power, and wealth” (Hunter, 144). She cannot sell whiteness due to her blackness and gender non-conformance. Because of her inability to sell white-ness, RuPaul will be outside of the euro-centric beauty norms for time immemorial. She will continuously be portrayed as grotesque because of her race and her gender non-conformance, as the mainstream responds badly to non-white and non-gender conforming people.
This post will be followed with one that addresses how RuPaul responds to such purposeful exclusion, which simply put is to enforce euro-centric beauty standards on her show.
 Kornhaber, Spencer. “Why Drag is the Ultimate Retort to Trump.” The Atlantic. 2017.
 Ford, Tanisha. “Harlem’s Natural Soul: Selling Black Beauty to the Diaspora in the 1960s.” Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul. 2015.
 Hobson, Janell. “The ‘Batty’ Politic: Towards an Aesthetic of the Black Female Body.” 2003.
 Tucking is the process by which people with penises hide them during drag performances.
 Hunter, Margaret. “Buying Racial Capital: Skin-Bleaching and Cosmetic Surgery in a Globalized World.” 2011.