Life in Plastic: Analyzing Drag Race’s Plastic Runway

This week the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, featured a challenge where drag queens had to walk the runway in a plastic-themed costume. Each queen brought their best looks forward, but one of the most interesting looks presented was done by the drag queen Valentina, who dressed as a ‘Venezuelan Barbie Doll,’ with her doll-like, anatomy-less crotch exposed.

In this challenge, Drag Race willingly calls upon the implications of plastic as ‘fake’ and ‘unauthentic’ and asks the queens to ‘run with with’, so to speak. By making the choice to present herself as a barbie doll in plastic packaging, Valentina draws parallels between the inherently queer drag and a classic symbol of American femininity.

Ultimately, this reveals an interesting observation that the choice of medium (and the connotations associated with it) can draw further meaning in a work. RuPaul’s runway was her work of art, and her choice to use plastic as her medium this week provides interesting commentary on gender and authenticity.

Featured below are other plastic-themed looks of Drag Queens Naomi Smalls and Manilla Luzon.


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