I like to be able to admit when I’m being a little delusional, but just walk with me here.
In the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16, after doing a book cover Mini Challenge and a girl group Maxi Challenge, the queens are expected to take to the runway in their favorite pussycat wig looks. The judges pretty much universally loved all of the looks — except Amanda Tori Meating’s.
Let’s be clear: I largely side with RuPaul and Plane Jane when it comes to Amanda’s aesthetics. Her looks certainly leave something to be desired. But that’s not really contested by Amanda if we’re being honest. I think, after speaking with other queens like Sapphira Cristal, it’s clear even to her that she has much room for improvement. But her look for the pussycat runway, to me, was not as bad as the judging panel made it out to be.
For her turn on the runway, Amanda chose to do a robin’s nest with three eggs. Her face became one of the hatching eggs with a blue wig as the top of the cracked egg and makeup to illustrate the bottom, her eyes peering out from between. The rest of the look was brown in a way that suggested either a tree or other nesting materials.
There was definitely room for improvement here, a space for fine-tuning, but the concept is pretty straight forward. The look doesn’t play so much on the concept of a “pussycat” wig (not all on the runway did,) but certainly incorporates one. It incorporated three, in fact, if you count the two styrofoam heads (ok a little more effort could have been put into that) that acted as extra, uncracked eggs. And though Amanda didn’t say it on stage, it did seem to be an illustration of a personal story.
This week, Amanda came out as trans, a “t-girl” specifically, still figuring out the specificity of her gender. In that interview she references Drag Race as the “cracking” of her egg, a concept understood within the trans community: an egg refers to someone who is trans but perhaps has yet to discover that fact. Amanda’s hatchling runway feels like it perfectly encapsulates where she says she was personally during filming.
This could, of course, might not have been intentional, but it was beautiful when viewed through that lens. Amanda was given an opportunity to explain the look, and she didn’t give us that metaphor. But a recent YouTube comment she made to someone questioning her coming out may provide context as to why she didn’t speak up.
“I had been dealing with gender dysphoria long before Drag Race,” she wrote, clarifying that she divorced her partner five months before the show began filming as a result of her transition. “I didn’t talk about it on the show because I didn’t want to make any statements like this in that high pressure environment before having a chance to process all the major changes happening in my life at one time, because of how seriously I take this. Also because I was afraid of videos like this going up.”
Maybe it’s a moot point, but we love this hidden, perhaps unintentional meaning, regardless. To be frank it was the worst look on the runway, but the judges’ critiques were hyperbolic, and Amanda seemed to suffer from the grading on a high curve of runway caliber. It would have been nice to have seen it get at least a little bit of credit. But … here we are.