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How Doing Drag Helped Me in Eating Disorder Recovery

I identify as queer and consider myself as part of the LGBT community. I always used to think of my eating disorder and being queer as two separate things, but things changed for the better in regards to my eating disorder. I have been struggling since November of last year — I had a really hard time in regards to eating, body image and just really accepting my body.

Last year around my birthday in August, I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to do drag. For those who don’t know what drag is, it’s when you dress up either as a man or a woman or something in between and you lip sync to a song and you dance and interact with the audience. People usually cheer and can give you money and dance and it’s a really positive fun environment. I’ve always wanted to do drag since most of my friends performed and I always had a thing for being center stage.

About a month ago, I was still wanting to do drag however I never really did anything about it. It wasn’t until someone said you really just have to jump into it and do it otherwise I would always be in the audience. So I threw myself into it and out came my more masculine side of who I was. I decided on an outfit that showed most of my body. As soon as the makeup went on and the outfit was on, I completely transformed into someone else. I felt so confident and comfortable in what I was doing and who I was and it felt like the most normal thing ever. However that was in my friend’s apartment and not in front of a crowd.

The next day I went out and was ready to perform for the first time. I had a song and an outfit and felt so comfortable. I went to a “boylesque” show and the people there were so positive and kind and honestly so genuine. Right before I went on stage I was so scared and didn’t know if this was the thing I needed, but I faced my fear and entered center stage. It wasn’t until I went on stage that all the negative body image and everything in regards to my eating disorder left my mind. The only thing I was focused on was all the positive feedback and remembering my dance and the song and everything I was doing. It wasn’t until I left stage and hugged the other performers and went into the dressing room that I realized what had happened. I was completely clear headed from my eating disorder and thoughts for however long my song was. It was the best thing for me — it completely transformed me. No one had a negative reaction like I thought they would towards me. Everyone was super body positive which was surprising because in my head, I know my eating disorder likes to twist things and make it seem like there’s something wrong with me when really they are just thoughts and they will eventually go away and things will be OK.

I now go out three to four times a week and perform multiple songs and have so much fun. When I am having a bad day, I know I can lean on my friends and go out and leave all the thoughts for the day. It started to only be a few songs, and then it turned into an hour and now it’s for the whole show. So when it seems like things are really difficult and I need some extra support, especially at night, I go out and for a few hours everything leaves and I transform into someone who’s confident and I don’t have to take my eating disorder everywhere I go. It’s the one space I can leave my eating disorder behind and my mind doesn’t believe I’m going to implode. It’s the one positive space where things are OK when everything is going wrong.

Unsplash photo via Steven Peice