RuPaul’s Drag Race star Pearl has addressed a controversial photo she shared (and has since deleted) that shows her as a character with darkened skin.
Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable and/or upset.
“The character I posted this morning was not meant to resemble any other background other than my own,” Pearl explained in an Instagram story on 10 August.
“She’s platinum blonde/blue eyes & meant to have 2000’s britney-esque tan.
“I certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone and will refrain from using any kind of tan at all when creating characters in the future. i’ve removed the post as to not continue to offend people.”
The pictures drew instant backlash from both social media users and fellow Drag Race alumni, with queens such as Mayhem Miller and Silky Nutmeg Ganache among those questioning why Pearl chose to tan her skin for the character.
“When people carelessly play with blackface and using slurs etc I think the public outrage overshadows the private hurt that we go through. These daily reminders that this world isn’t safe, welcoming or sensitive to our feelings is overwhelming,” The Vixen, who competed on season nine of the show, wrote on social media.
White people paint their skin the shade of people who have to defend their skin shade and their surprised they have to defend their choice
— The Vixen (@TheVixensworld) August 10, 2023
“White people paint their skin the shade of people who have to defend their skin shade and their surprised they have to defend their choice,” she added.
Following her initial apology, Pearl issued an additional statement via her Instagram feed.
“It was not my intention to do blackface, i thought the concept of the character would be clear to anyone who saw it, which was ignorant on my part, for which i am sorry,” she wrote on 11 August.
“Just to be clear, every aspect of the character was inspired by caucasian people, there was no black-influence going on in my mind during the time of conception. but now i see the people that inspired the character are/have been problematic, and by dressing up and parodying as them, i to am contributing to the issue in its own way, something i hadn’t thought of and don’t want to contribute to.
“With that being said, i’ve felt creatively stumped for a while and it may be due to the fact that some of these characters are kind of tired and just aren’t aging well, so i’m going to look at this as an opportunity to grow from the experience and expand myself creatively.”
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Pearl competed on the seventh season of Drag Race, where she finished as the joint runner-up alongside Ginger Minj to winner Violet Chachki.
She has since claimed that she will “never” be invited back to an All Stars season after publicly sharing that RuPaul allegedly told her “nothing” she says matters “unless that camera is rolling”.