A Drag Queen Gave Me a Makeover on the Dancefloor
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping” — Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers was referring to the people who help in times of crisis: first responders, rescue teams, medical personnel — anyone who feels it’s their duty and privilege to assist when and where their help is needed the most.
We’re seeing a lot of helpers now in the time of COVID-19.
However, we mustn't forget about the helpers we see in everyday life. Those people who help us feel better when there isn’t any kind of life and death situation.
This kind of helper is often overlooked and unacknowledged because their acts of kindness aren’t high stakes — no one is in terrible physical peril, but that isn’t to say that help isn’t needed.
It’s not always obvious when someone is a helper. There are times when we may not be aware that we even need help, or we might not know how to receive help when it’s given.
Sometimes the smallest act of compassion and thoughtfulness can change you forever.
I met a helper when I least expected it and they were not at all how I imagined them to be, but our brief interaction was something I’ll never forget.
I was still mourning the end of my relationship. Nothing seemed okay and I doubted that I feel better anytime soon. My insecurity and anxiety had teamed together to try and destroy what was left of my self-esteem.
I wasn’t in a good place.
I refused every invitation to socialize and get out of the house, but on this night, my friends refused to listen to my excuses and refusals. We were going to Club Cherry, an eclectic pop-up club that featured music from the 70s & 80 and that was the end of the discussion.
I didn’t put that much effort into my outfit. I wasn’t going to meet someone or to have fun — I was only going to satisfy my friends so that they’d stop bothering me.
As soon as we got to Club Cherry, my friends went to go get drinks and I went to stand at the edge of the dance floor.
I was focused on the people dancing and didn’t notice when suddenly, a drag queen wearing a marigold wig and a faux-fur coat was standing right in front of me.
In her hands were a comb, a can of hair spray, lipstick, and eye shadow. She looked me up and down, paused for a moment, and then said, “Trust me, Gurl” and did a circle gesture with her hand around my head indicating she had some big changes in mind.
When I was a kid, I’d cry when I got my hair cut. I’m not someone who tries the latest hair style-no matter what or who experiments with their hair.
There are only two times where I can remember stepping out of my hair comfort zone.
Once in 7th grade (before rainbow hair was popular,)my friends convinced me to put green food color in my naturally blonde hair. I botched it and ended up looking like a cabbage head.
There’s cool green hair and then there’s sad green hair — you can guess which I had.
The second time I deviated from the shoulder-length hair I usually have, was when I got a bi-level haircut that looked like a wavy mullet.
So, putting my hair in a stranger’s hands is somewhat terrifying to me.
I took a breath to ground myself and I nodded to let her know it was okay for her to proceed with her plans to make me over.
I needed a change — I just didn’t know I would be getting in on the outskirts of a dancefloor.
She went to work first with my hair: brushing, teasing, and sweeping it from one side to the other. She was careful not to pull my hair and when her comb came upon a knot, she’d delicately work the comb through it.
I continued to stand as still as I could as the dance floor pulsated underneath me causing me to feel off-balance and out of control.
She shielded my eyes with her hand — her long iridescent green nails hovering over my eyes and sprayed hair spray over her creation and locking it in place. I could dance my ass off, and that hair wasn’t going to move.
By the time, the drag makeover-artist was done with my hair, my friends were back with drinks in hand cheering her on.
The D.J. continued his flashback medley and ended Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and went right into Karma Chameleon.
My new personal makeup artist applied silvery eyeshadow to my eyes with the lightest of strokes. When she was satisfied with my eyes, she turned her attention to my lips and applied a glossy red lipstick.
“Look at the new you,” the drag queen said and handed me a mirror that she had pulled out of a large pocket in her coat as if it were Mary Poppin’s magical bag.
I didn’t want to seem ungrateful or unbelieving, so I tried not to hesitate as I took the mirror from her hand and viewed her work.
I looked fabulous. The height of my hair balanced out my full face, the eyeshadow brought out the green of my hazel eyes, and my lips reminded me of a vintage movie star’s lips — full and nicely shaped.
In five minutes, she had transformed me from the outside in, for the best thing that the drag queen gave me wasn’t my makeup or even the styling of my hair; she had given me an attitude makeover.
“You’re welcome,” she said before I had the chance to thank her and went to find another person in desperate need of change.
Was it scary trusting a stranger to do my hair and makeup? Yes, it was but I’m so glad I did as it felt as if the negativity that I had been surrounding myself with had lifted.
My friends couldn’t get over the change in me.
I never found out her name or saw her again, but there was one thing I do know and that’s that she was a helper. Her makeover on me was an act of kindness that had given me a confidence boost and had helped me to let go of my past relationship blues.
Helpers are all around us and even though you might not know at first, the helpers will make themselves known.
Sometimes the helper is a 6th-foot drag queen wearing a bright wig and a faux fur coat or the barista who remembers your order without you saying a word or the helper can be the toddler in the family who flings themselves at you with a big smile on their face and lets you know that they love you.
Helpers can be anyone including yourself.