In 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race was a small scale, low budget show that held a small audience. After just over 11 years, the TV series has won multiple Emmys and become an international sensation with multiple successful spin-offs spanning continents. It’s now one of the most popular competition shows on television and has given many now-famous drag queens their start.
With the rise of the internet and a gradually more accepting world, the art of drag has only become more popular. Drag queens are now being globally recognized for everything from their makeup and fashion to their music and comedy.
Yet, drag queens Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova have spread their influence beyond the usual visual world of drag to the literary community. The two superstars recently released “Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood,” a “satirical how-to guide” on relationships, homemaking and beauty. In their book, Mattel and Zamolodchikova give their advice, anecdotes, tips and tricks to central aspects of a modern woman’s life. From self-love to crafting the perfect cocktail, these two cover it all.
The first few pages were hilarious. Instead of feeling like an average reading experience, this book ushers readers into an engaging and real conversation with Mattel and Zamolodchikova. It’s as if they’re right in front of you, making the book a beyond-enjoyable read. While not always speaking on a universally relatable topic, they write in such a way that anyone could enjoy the book, regardless of personal experience. Even without having an interest in pursuing makeup, Mattel’s makeup section was nevertheless a blast to read. The authors put thought into not just giving out useful information, but also a lively, immersive experience for any reader.
Among the unique aspects of the book were the “A Conversation with Trixie and Katya” chapters. These passages are reminiscent of their web show UNHhhh, another factor that brings this book to life. In most books, conversations don’t feel truly real. The characters use words not typically used in conversation, speak for way too long and the exchange doesn’t feel natural. However, these sections made it effortless to imagine a conversation happening between the two. The writing was authentically them.
By writing with a casual tone, Trixie and Katya create a sense of freedom in their work. The subtle comment that one doesn’t have to be a woman, or at all feminine for that matter, to be interested and passionate about topics such as these, reinforces their claim that each person’s experience with gender is unique to them.
By having portions in the book verbatim of real conversations, these two drag queens shatter the social norms that discourage people from sharing the important parts of their lives with the world. Setting an example for everyone else, these two not only tell but show us that it’s okay to talk about the uncomfortable and embarrassing parts of life.
Currently, the world is beginning to warm up to the ideas of gender fluidity, varying sexuality and other concepts that were disregarded just decades before. With this book, Mattel and Zamolodchikova are adding their voices to this overdue and crucial conversation. The fact that drag queens, not seen by many as women, are writing a book on being a good woman is a statement in and of itself. It says that one doesn’t need to be a biological woman to be a woman, one doesn’t need to be a biological man to be a man and that one doesn’t need to have a gender to possess a strong sense of femininity or masculinity. By encouraging everyone to simply let people be people, this book illustrates that being yourself is all you need.