Some of you who read this blog regularly will know that I have been working on a project about a theory in gender studies that we are all, as women, wearing drag. This doesn’t just mean that we dress in men’s clothing and try and pass as what are known as homologues, although many of us do this at work, it means that we have to try and dress to reach an approximation of some idealised version of femininity which very few of us ever attain. Drag Queens ‘queer’ this image of femininity by heightening it so much that it becomes ridiculous; they expose what an artificial and ‘supplied’ ideal this is, but ordinary women are also expected to carry this off in every day life, and it is virtually impossible. otherwise we would all be considered to have film star looks and the cosmetic industry would be about tweaking perfection rather than selling us false hope.
Back to the doll. One of the things that I have been interested in in the research that I have done is the polarisation of masculine and feminine and colour. There are two approaches. One is that the male is black-clad and therefore sober, rational, objective, above trifles, solid, austere, unchangeable. This is achieved through the dark business suit. The female, however, is associated with bright colours, embellishment, nature, the body, emotions and so on – like the ‘savage’ and uncivilised, according to Goethe. The other schema is that men are associated with black and women with white: the bride, the vestal virgin, the weeping widow, the veiled woman, and I think, the Edwardian lady, gracious, charming, elegant, and, generally speaking, at home. Having made the black-suited (D)rag Doll I and the colourful orientalised (D)rag Doll II, I decided to make a white (D)rag Doll III as an end to the series. I was going to make a Frida Kahlo doll as she is so well-known for her eyebrows and moustache and the first two were moustachioed dolls, but in the end I realised I just wanted to make a Frida doll and there was no real theoretical point. So here is (D)rag Doll III, resplendent in antique lace (given to me by the wonderful Julie, an ex-student) and silk which I bought in a pack of samples of wedding dress fabric. I think the antique lace means that she really does come out looking Edwardian – very Downton Abbey:
I gave this one a face, because I wanted to say something about cosmetics which are such a large part of the drag act:
And I needed her hair to be soignee, and so I made her a snood out of gold tulle, which I don’t think is particularly authentic, but it was beyond me to make the hair into a convincing chignon, although I did try for about half an hour before admitting defeat:
She is a very pretty doll, but she looks sad to me. She was an absolute delight to make, though.