The “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum and recording artist reveals how learning to love herself was the key to living her happiest, healthiest life.
Mo heart He wears many hats. She is an internationally known drag queen famous for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars”, a recording artist, owner of her own beauty brand, MoBeauty.
Despite the glitz and glamor of all that success and the platform and visibility it brings, she says it can be hard to push against some of the entrenched, often toxic “traditional” beauty norms and standards that society throws her way.
Hart remembers growing up as a child in the ’90s, looking at those Abercrombie & Fitch ads of skinny white models staring back at her. On television, actors like Pamela Anderson and her co-stars on shows like “Baywatch” were the only—and very dominant—examples of a certain kind of nominee sexuality that Hart said she didn’t feel connected to or represented with.
The way pop culture and media-driven beauty mores can affect a person’s mental health and sense of belonging in the world has been on the minds of the heart a lot lately.
She was recently a featured speaker during Advertising Week in New York as part of a Healthline panel on “Intersectionality beauty. ”
After the session, Hart sat down with Healthline to talk about how sometimes, when you’re faced with a lack of representation, you have to “become a role model.”
“Look at yourself, and don’t tear yourself apart. You are beautiful, you are wonderful, you are so smart, you are so strong, you are resilient,” said the heart.
Hart advised that self-affirmation statements like these can go a long way toward protecting one’s mental health from society’s limited view of “beauty”. She said it was the same advice she wished she could give her younger self, too.
Hart said that no matter who you are, it can be difficult to be faced with a constant stream of messages that may not be enough. You can fill in the blank yourself for what that might mean: your skin, your body type, your hair, your voice, you name it.
“Most people wake up in the morning, look at their phones, and actually see the pictures [on] Instagram and Twitter of what beauty is “supposed” to be, whether by influencer or brand.” “Then you look at your face, you leave the house, and you keep seeing ads and ads and ads. You go to work, and it’s ads, ads, ads. You are just surrounded. “
It’s almost impossible not to start comparing yourself to these images and thinking, Hart said.this is It is what is needed, this is what is needed, because if it is not, you will see the opposite.
It is a problem for everyone, especially people who are part of marginalized communities.
Hart said that for LGBT people and people of color, it’s a hurdle to get over every day. For anyone who may not fit into the easily categorized boxes defined by advertising, social media, movies, and TV, you may have to go to great lengths to find representation that makes you feel visible.
Hart remembers working at the mall as a “women’s black boy”. Feeling less than that was hard to avoid, Hart said, since there wasn’t a single blackface in those ads. If there is, then that model or actor will be sandwiched between thin white bodies.
“I’d go into the store, and my body wasn’t like that, my hair wasn’t like that, my skin wasn’t like that. A lot of that stuff starts to tire you out,” Hart recalled. “Also, there was the fact that I was gay, and that wasn’t celebrated; It was too much for my feelings. I put on weight, and then there’s the way plus-size people are viewed in today’s society. It’s tearing you apart over and over again.”
But some examples were providing positive reinforcement.
“I think being a little black kid, but also someone with vitiligo, which is a skin color disorder when pigmentation starts to fight itself, so [I had this] “Very smudged brow during the ’90s that all that emphasis on beauty just wasn’t there for me,” Hart said.
“It was my mother who really helped instill life in me, because she was a beautiful dark-skinned woman, and even today, black women are not celebrated; they are celebrated for being very dark but not for being pretty.
“I’ll never forget there was a Revlon campaign. I was a little kid. My mother came into the living room, and I’d say, ‘This is my friend, she was my friend,’ this and that. ‘She’s beautiful, she’s beautiful,'” Hart said, and my mother put my finger on the woman. The dark-skinned woman said, “She’s beautiful, too.”
Some of these messages can be difficult to undo, Hart said. She was fortunate to have her mother there to set an example in celebrating one’s unique beauty, embracing it, being proud of it, and emphasizing it.
But she said she knows not everyone has that kind of support, either in their own family or in the communities around them.
When asked exactly how media beauty standards can affect one’s mental health, Heather ZedLCSW, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist based in Brooklyn, said it often comes from the person crafting the messages.
“Modern beauty standards are often based on a Western and Eurocentric version of what beauty means, i.e. fair skin, height and thinness, high cheekbones, small nose, etc. European countries do not value the same things. This can cause a lot of internal hatred for one’s body. One’s appearance and appearance when a person doesn’t fit into these very narrow ideals,” Zedd, who is not affiliated with any of the heart projects, told Healthline.
Zaid said there is an entire industry set out to enforce these well-established standards.
“Millions of dollars are spent annually on weight-loss diets and beauty products that aim to alter people’s appearance to fit standard parameters. Feeling unfit can lead to depression and anxiety. These Western ideals also lead people to fat phobias, racism, colorism, aging, and ability,” Zaid explained.
She added, “This can also affect the LGBT+ community in terms of Western beauty that often comes from a straight, white, masculine gaze that leaves no room for those who fall outside of those norms.”
Heart takes her mom’s lessons, well, seriously. She said you have to “become your own role model” if you feel like no one is speaking for you and to me You are.
“You have to see the vision and see where you want to end up,” Hart added. “I see myself whole, happy, loved, complete, beautiful, desirable, affirmed — all of those things.”
If all these toxic images are constantly surrounding us, how do we resist their negative impact?
Some of the strategies I recommend are asking yourself: Does this standard of beauty come from within, or is this something I’ve learned many times in my life through ads, movies, and magazines? Do I see myself and others through this standard, and if so, how do I view people? Differently, in a more welcoming, open way? When I look around the world, how many people actually fit the ‘ideal’ standard of beauty?” Zaid said.
You can fight with your wallet, too.
You don’t have to buy something or buy a brand that makes you question your self-worth.
“If you’re tempted to buy a product, ask yourself if it’s because the product will make you feel good (like a fancy skin cream) vs. ‘Will it simply make me more fit to a perceived ideal and potentially harm me?'” He explained. “When considering an eating plan, ‘Will it make me feel healthy and nourished and allow for food to be eaten, or is the goal to cut back to as small as I can do?’”
When it comes to the TV, you can also turn it off.
“If you notice that watching certain shows that value these beauty standards makes you feel bad about yourself, take a break from it and try not to compare yourself to others,” said Zedd.
Hart stressed that this can be easier said than done, especially in the modern age of social media.
“We live in a ‘you miss out’ culture of FOMO,” she said. “I think you can step back and take a break, even if it only takes a couple of hours.” [away] From social media and I will do something productive and constructive. Something that fills me up rather than draining me or taking up my time.”
“I think you have to take a step back and set yourself apart from the world,” Hart added.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that negative beauty messages will go away. But at least you don’t constantly suck it up and let it affect you.
When reflecting on the beauty messages of the past, Hart said many current brands are actively saying, “We need a black woman, we need a woman, we need a trans woman, we need to make sure we hit our boxes, we can hit a goal.”
While those boxes are being checked, Hart said the mainstream market these companies are trying to engage with is still, in many ways, white, middle-class, “mainstream” Americans.
Heart uses the example of The Bachelor and the number of times more diverse contestants are coded and not necessarily put in a position to make huge strides towards greater media inclusion.
In the athletics business, Hart said, you’ll see more “plush girls” who aren’t just relegated to the “plus size” section of the store. Some of the steps are more superficial. Brands are making an attempt, Hart said, but for many, it’s just surface level.
“Brands are slowly including more ages, genders, and body types, but the overall rate of inclusion is poor,” Zaid added. “I hope more brands practice inclusion and get really good feedback from consumers that this is absolutely essential. If a brand is trying to get you to buy a product by making you feel bad about yourself, don’t support that brand.”
Today, the heart thrives. In addition to all her entrepreneurial endeavors, she is the host of the third season of “walk inon Amazon Prime.
When reflecting on where she is now and how far she’s come on the journey of self-acceptance, Hart, 36, said she’d like to talk to her 12-year-old and 25-year-old versions and say, “You don’t have to go through the same bullshit I went through.”
“I think a lot of us in our 30s are finally starting to heal and being able to be okay with who we are, in understanding, ‘You know what? I may not be the most popular of that group, 10 out of 10, but in this group, I may be 25! “You have to prove yourself and find love.”
Sometimes you also have to check in yourself and check out the friends who are there for you, Hart said. Sometimes you have to turn to your girlfriend and say, “Girl, I’m going through it!”
By asserting yourself and seeking support from the people who matter, some of those negative messages and outdated toxic beauty standards seem less relevant.
“For me, I had to learn to love and affirm myself. That’s when I started to lose weight, that’s when my skin started to clear, that’s when I took care of myself,” Heart said. “I would say it starts with you, and it ends with you.”