Manila Luzon’s Period Queen Gown is Not About Taste

Hey Kitty Gurls! Who’s watching RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4? So far, no major complaints. It’s already miles better than All Stars 3, and hopefully, it’ll keep up the momentum.

The runways, in particular, have been fierce and fabulous. Last week’s theme was “Curves & Swerves, padded for the Gods,” and we got a wonderful (and hopefully final) abstract brown cow stunning look, a hilarious set up on the Kimmy K “Break The Internet,” bit, and a look so curvy and swervy it honestly looks like it’s moving whilst stationary. I’m dizzy looking at it, and I love everything about it.

Manila Luzon, hopeful winner and forever Heather, came out in a beautiful French Fantasy Coco Chanel inspired look. The judges loved it, she won the challenge, but on Instagram, she posted her first choice. “Padded For The Gods,” was interpreted in a slightly off-kilter way.

She wanted to come out as a giant sanitary pad.

As a period-haver (despite having installed uterine software that was supposed to stop them, but that’s fine), I love this look. It’s not disrespectful towards women and period-havers. It’s slightly irreverent, but it’s honestly beautiful. It makes the act of having a period look couture and high fashion. The attention to detail is stunning, from the red streak in her hair to the fact that the blood is dripping backwards and leaking slightly. This is everything that high-fashion drag should be; it’s campy yet couture, and a celebration and subversion of womanhood and gender.

So obviously RuPaul said it was in “bad taste,” and production told her to wear her backup dress. Thus, a beleaguered sigh from Drag Race fans and alumni was heard throughout the land.

“Bad taste” coming from RuPaul’s Drag Race of all places is pretty rich; this is the show that has featured tasteful delights such as:

  • a musical skit about eating shit
  • Alaska Thunderfuck swinging his dick around the workroom
  • Morgan McMicheals shooting Robbie Turner’s name out of his ass
  • Joslyn Fox asking Cher’s mum about Cher’s near abortion
  • Frequent references to messy bottoms
  • An entire sketch which ended with an extended fart joke (I really can not stress how bad All-Stars 3 was).

Taste has never appeared to be a huge issue for Drag Race – and we love it for it (fart jokes notwithstanding), so why are they now clutching their pearls and calling things gauche?

Oh yeah, because women have periods and periods are icky.

For a show that has prided itself on subverting expectations and pushing the boundaries when it comes to gender and sexuality, it’s genuinely disappointing that they’ve taken such a puritanical view about periods. Periods are normal. Approximately 50% of the population gets them (give or take). A period is a sign of a working and healthy reproductive system. There’s nothing icky and gross about them. And yet we still live in a world where sanitary product adverts never actually show any blood – instead they show a girl wearing a white dress riding a horse and an unidentified blue liquid. Some brands are making “silent wrappers”, so that you can open your sanitary product without the fear of anyone else in the public bathroom knowing that you’re on your period. Periods are so stigmatized that people don’t know what’s normal, with sometimes dangerous consequences. Plan International UK did a study showing that 79% of people who have periods have symptoms that have caused them significant concern (heavy bleeding, severe pain, irregular cycles). 27% said that they were too embarrassed to seek further medical review, and 54% didn’t seek medical review (despite their concern), because they thought their symptoms were normal.

This culture of stigma and taboo is creating an atmosphere where people are too scared to talk about their periods, even if there might be something wrong.

Which brings us to drag. A lot of women have been drawn to drag because it’s a celebration, and sometimes subversion of womanhood. There are frequent vaginal references, from “I’m pussy bitch,” to “my pussy’s on fire”. Some parts of drag culture have been called out for internalised misogyny; for example, a drag queen who looks particularly feminine is called fish, as in she smells like a fishy vagina. Which admittedly isn’t great, but it appears that most drag queens love womanhood. There’s a reason why so many drag icons are women.

Then why is the world’s biggest drag forum being so skittish about periods? A pussy can be on fire, but it can’t dispose of its used ova?  

In her Instagram post, Manila talked about how she wanted to normalise periods for her young female fans. You can be glamorous whilst menstruating and there’s nothing to be ashamed of! There’s literally nothing “bad taste” about that. It’s up to everyone, regardless of gender, to destigmatise periods. Let’s quit with the blue liquid and silent wrappers, and let’s let our queen to be the glamorous sanitary pads we need in the world.

Period Poverty is still a major issue in the UK. The average lifetime cost of having a period in the UK is £4800, and people in poverty (particularly refugees and asylum seekers) can’t afford this. To help combat period poverty, donate to Bloody Good Period.

-Q

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