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Why Drag Queens Are Better Role Models Than Disney Princesses

09/29/2013 10:30 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
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An earlier version of this blog post originally appeared on MamaPop.

The moment that I learned of the twin girls in my belly, I resolved not to send two hoes into the world. I'd teach them that self-expression is always more important than playing nice, and I'd warn them that waiting around for someone else to make their dreams come true is not only futile but downright scallywag.

So imagine my horror when my toddlers took to Disney princesses. And it goes beyond merely watching the movies and buying the merchandise: My girls have lived as those characters for the past three years. They've all but forgotten how to count to 5, but they can curtsy, smile and gasp on cue. The standard name for each color has been replaced by the name of the princess with the corresponding branding: "Belle" for "yellow," "Tiana" for "green," "Cinderella" for "blue," "Sleeping Beauty" for "pink," etc. The feminist inside me wept -- until, eavesdropping on their usual princess gab, I overheard the following statement:

"My favorite princess is Ariel, and yours is Cinderella, and Mommy's favorite princess is Sharon Needles."

Then and there, the door blew open. You see, Sharon Needles is not just a princess but a queen, a strong, creative, groundbreaking, wickedly brilliant queen. I suddenly realized that there was more than one direction that I could push the princess mania, because my children could not distinguish between a Disney princess and a drag queen.

Indeed, the parallels between the two are downright uncanny. Both wear grandiose costumes and perform signature songs. Big hair is an absolute staple across the board. Both have been known to make their shining debut at the local ball. And, like it or not, a midnight transformation is all but inevitable.

I couldn't help the pride swelling inside me at the thought of the possibilities, mainly because I despise Disney princesses. Regardless of the amount of money that I've pumped into their franchise, I feel that the psychology behind the tiara is a mockery of the values that I swore to instill in my daughters. Meanwhile, shoving your balls into your pelvic cavity might not make you a real woman, but it doesn't preclude you from being a better role model than a Disney princess.

Let's start with the obvious discrimination in the princess community, shall we? While most of the princesses are still blonde-haired, blue-eyed white girls, Disney has conjured a half-assed attempt to include a few other cultures, so you have Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas breaking the Aryan glass ceiling, though you'd have a hard time finding them anywhere but in the back row. It only took Disney 86 years to drop its Jim Crow laws and allow Tiana, the black princess, an invitation to the ball. But discrimination in the drag community? I'm pretty sure that the only requirement is to have a penis duct-taped between your legs; other than that, anything goes.

Secondly, ever wonder how those princesses are getting their fancy gowns and blinged-out crowns? Of the 11 Disney princesses currently included in the franchise, only one has ever had a job. (Apparently Tiana was born with such a socioeconomic disadvantage that she had to work two jobs to even attempt to make her big princess dreams a reality. [See also: discrimination.] And after all that hard work, she still couldn't seem to get ahead until she locked down a prince whose family could buy her those dreams.) Drag queens, on the other hand, have a strong work ethic. Basically, if a queen isn't working her butt pads off, she isn't making tips. No one is going to pay to watch a man put on a sequined dress and sit in the middle of the dance floor.

Finally, in the world of drag, a sense of humor is as fundamental as proper padding and the ability to "read." You won't find a money-making queen who doesn't camp it up with her audience. Laughter is what helps us persevere; it lifts us out of our struggles. Yet I can't recall one princess with the ability to laugh at her ridiculous plights. If you've lost your parents only to be enslaved in a rat-infested tower, your tone should be more sarcastic than Arrested Development meets Curb Your Enthusiasm. Instead, the princesses always awaken into a smiling song -- a clear red flag, in my opinion. Stepmother had better check the cellar for a hidden artillery of crockpot explosives.

When it comes down to it, I respect drag queens. They are artists. They are able to conceptualize an idea and transform themselves -- without the help of magic, I might add. They are risk takers. They are punk. But Disney princesses? They are a man-made franchise created to sell cheaply made shit to our daughters. They are a perpetuation of the stereotype of the weak, dumb woman who obediently waits for a man to come along and make her valuable. Between the two I'll always promote the big-wigged man crooning "I'm Every Woman." Werq.

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