Note: Spoilers throughout on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9
So, as I have said before, I am an avid fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It is one of my all time favorite shows (and seriously, if you are not watching it, you are missing out on some very talented people who know how to give a good show).
Anyhow, season (season 9) has been very interesting on many levels. While not at the same caliber as say… Season 8 or Season 6, I find this to be a decently strong season with some great queens.
One queen, however, stands out.
Nina is a fierce queen with a fatal flaw: She has such a low self-esteem that she is unable to see compliments for what they are, and is constantly feeling outcast and separated from the group because of her own doubts and fears and insecurities in herself.
I see so much of myself in her.
Nina is a wonderful person. She is funny, she is talented, and she is smart. The problem is that she doesn’t believe it. Throughout the season, she has taken every compliment with a grain of salt. She dismisses compliments and blows out criticisms. She is her own worst enemy, and is the first to throw herself under the bus in order to fit the storyline she has created for herself: that she is the outcasted queen.
It can be hard to watch.
My entire life, I have struggled with self-esteem issues. I have a constant, persistent mode where anything positive or affirming said to me is deflected, dismissed, or diminished. There have been times when I have actively countered compliments with my flaws to prove that what they are saying is wrong. There have been times where I have sought approval and recognition, and then doubt its authenticity when it is given, because I feel like I was begging for the compliment and it is not real. I will often explain away good things by saying that it is not special, or that everyone can do it. It is something that I have learned early in life when at times, I was told by my parents, that despite all the good things said about me, I was, in reality, a terrible person and will amount to nothing because of my terribleness.
Looking back at much of my life, I can see where the Nina Bo’Nina Brown in me has caused a lot of strife in my life where none needed to be. My self-loathing affected my life back in my 20’s and I can understand why many people shied away from me. I also note how incredibly patient so many people in my life were when I would get into those dark places and literally hate on myself. Even know, I have period of self-loathing, and my husband is amazing and wonderful in weathering those periods.
Seeing the other queens react to Nina has been eye opening. In the Confessionals, you see how painstakingly they try to say the positive about Nina before talking about the frustration of her attitude, and how it affects them. You see the frustration on Shae’s face when she confronts Nina, only to be deflected again, and Nina feels that her prophesy that everyone will turn on her is correct, never realising that it is her attitude that makes the prophesy self-fulfilling.
I hate that I have done that to people. I have put people in that exact situation, and seeing it play out on TV is quite an eye-opener.
I wish I could say that Nina is a worse case than me, but in all honestly, I have been there before and I know how she feels. I just want to reach out and hug Nina so tightly and tell her I know exactly how she feels and how she *is* amazing, and to believe in herself and that those thoughts are not who she is. I want to tell her that this is a fight that she will have for the rest of her life, but it is a fight worth having, because she is worth something amazing. I want to build her up, not like the queens have tried to do this season, but I want to pull that confidence she has out, and cultivate it and nurture it so that she can believe in herself. I want to hold her and tell her that I understand that place, and it is not a place for her. I want to show her that you can have unconditional friends, and that while it is ok to wear your heart on your sleeve, it is important to protect your heart from your own torment.
I love Nina. I think she is fierce, amazing, and is hurting. She need to take RuPaul’s mantra, and take it to heart. Nina needs to learn to love herself. I hope she takes this experience, and see how much everyone cares for her, but also see the reality that she pushes people away unnecessarily.
And all of this is a reminder to myself to do the same.