Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen

Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen


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Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen by Jackie Huba, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs

Work through your fears by getting fierce!

Fiercely You is a creative, playful approach to the serious problems that women face regarding confidence and risk taking. At a particularly low point in her life, bestselling author Jackie Huba serendipitously stumbled upon the wonderful world of drag queens and was inspired. They were supremely self-assured, utterly fearless, strong, powerful, and unabashedly and completely themselves. Jackie even became a drag queen herself: Lady Trinity. Drawing on her own experiences and interviews with the world’s top drag queens, Huba and coauthor Shelly Kronbergs offers five Keys to Fierce that will help readers find the courage to ignore criticism and live the life they truly want to live every day—no wigs or stilettos required.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626568075
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 08/15/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,310,308
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jackie Huba is the author of three books and a TEDx speaker and has worked as a consultant with top brands such as Whirlpool, Disney, American Express, and Discovery. She is a contributor, and her work has frequently been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Businessweek.

Shelly Stewart Kronbergs is a licensed marriage and family therapy associate in private practice.

Read an Excerpt

Fiercely You

Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen

By Jackie Huba, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2016 Jackie Huba and Shelly Stewart Kronbergs
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62656-809-9




The Need for Fierce

When was the last time you did something that astounded those around you, that amazed yourself, that was outside of your comfort zone? Has it been a while? Was it in your childhood, or at college? If it was recent, did you need the help of a drink or two to muster up that courage? That's pretty common. But when was the last time you felt intimidated, insecure, afraid to do something because it might be wrong? Or when was the last time you watched someone else do something bold and you thought, "That's amazing! But I could never do that?" Unfortunately, that's pretty common too. Why? Fear. We often hold ourselves back from our true potential because of all kinds of fears — fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of being laughed at, and even the fear of being our most glorious self.

This lack of confidence shows itself most measurably in our work lives, especially in women as compared to men. In a study by Hewlett-Packard, women working at the company applied for promotions only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications necessary for the job. The men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. The study showed that women felt confident only when they feel perfect. A 2014 U.S. gender parity study at Bain & Company looked at employees' career aspirations and their confidence in getting a top management position. Both men and women were equally confident about their ability to reach a top management position at the start of their careers. However, over time, women's aspiration levels dropped more than 60 percent while men's stayed the same. As they gained experience, women's confidence also fell by half, while men's stayed about the same. As both of these studies demonstrate, we women are holding ourselves back from our professional goals and aspirations because of our lack of confidence.

Marianne Williamson, a celebrated spiritual teacher, author, and lecturer, directly addressed this issue when she wrote:

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory ... that is within us.

So let's release these inhibitions and fears in order to be the fabulous people we imagine we could be. What would your life be like if you could actually become that dazzling diva you dream of being? It would be shinier than all the sequins on a stage full of drag queens, that's what! It would be more powerful than all those nagging, negative voices that live with you and inside your head.

What would it be like to live your life boldly, vibrantly, barely giving notice to those inner and outer voices that constantly harangue you to step back, quiet down, and not take that risk? Imagine for a moment, though, what would happen if you and all the people you know were set free from their fears and were able to embrace a life of exuberance. Can you feel that energy simmering? That spark of excitement, of possibility, is actually power, plain and simple. It is the new meaning of an old word that is changing, and that word is FIERCE.

The Oxford English Dictionary still defines "fierce" as "having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness." Violence is implied. It has been a bloody word, often used to refer to battle. But the word "fierce" is in the process of morphing into something else, something more refined. The Urban Dictionary serves up several definitions of "fierce," such as "having exceptional quality, being bold, displaying chutzpah, cool, and eye-catching," and being used to describe someone "who is on fire and possesses too much swag for the common man or woman to handle." As we see it, the word "fierce" means bold, empowered, confident, fabulous, remarkable, outspoken, and strong. We want a world that's full of this kind of fierce. We want our friends to be fierce. We want you to be fierce.

And we've found a way to do that. We've found the fiercest collection of people on the planet, and we want to share with you what we have learned from them so that you can be your most fabulous and confident self by thinking like they do.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you ... THE DRAG QUEENS!

Learn from the Queens of Fierce

So just how does a middle-aged ex-IBMer, excomputer programmer, former corporate executive, author, and straight woman go from that to performing in drag as the glamorously fierce Lady Trinity? Here's how it all started.

Raised in a blue-collar family, I (Jackie) did everything I could to be the best daughter possible: I got straight As in school, behaved perfectly, earned a degree in computer science, and became a hardworking marketer at IBM. I was always the good girl, doing the right thing, never making waves. I did fine but never felt good enough. After a failed marriage and another failed long relationship, I started to question who I was. I wrote two marketing books with my former significant other and became a successful management consultant and speaker. When that relation- ship/professional partnership ended I found myself on my own, in my forties, at the lowest point in my life. I was bored with the work I had been doing, felt stifled creatively, and knew I wasn't living up to my potential. I felt insecure and knew something drastic needed to happen. At forty-seven, though, I wasn't sure that I had the confidence to reinvent myself and do something completely different. I was stuck.

During this time, not coincidentally, I found myself freakishly drawn to and inspired by pop superstar Lady Gaga. She even became the subject of my third, and first solo, business book, Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics. Here was a woman who had created a powerful, disruptive persona — complete with crazy makeup, big wigs, wild costumes, and tall heels — and had successfully conquered the misogynist, male-dominated recording industry.

I began to think, doesn't everyone, every day, create personas as we act out the various roles we play in society? You have a professional persona you create for work, a more nurturing persona with your kids, a free-spirited persona when you are out with your friends, and I could go on and on. All of these personas together make up our personality. But in adult life we often alter our personas too much in order to fit into society. We worry about what others will think of us. Sometimes it's just easier to conform rather than stand out. This is especially true for women. Psychology tells us that self-doubt derails us from pursuing our passions and accomplishing our greatest goals. Fear and doubt keep us clinging to conformity and stop us from being our best selves.

And, sure enough, there I was one night in my everyday uniform — a wrap dress with comfortable (and, I'd later learn, dowdy) slingbacks, alone, feeling defeated on the couch, surfing through channels when I stumbled on RuPaul's Drag Race. I simply could not keep my eyes off of those drag queens I was seeing on the screen. Here were men going balls out (or, more precisely, in) to create these fierce, fabulous, female characters for the stage. I watched them, envious, as they unabashedly transformed themselves into whatever their hearts desired, unafraid to flout the socially acceptable boundaries of beauty by experimenting with costumes, cosmetics, and wigs that defied expectations and even gravity. Here were men revering womanhood and pulling together the most feminine, most fabulous, and most glamorous traits that I (supposedly) just naturally possessed. No limits, no apologies, just strong, bold, dynamic femininity accessorized with a stiletto-sharp wit and a give-no-fucks attitude. As I watched season after season of the show, I began to realize that drag queens are terrific role models for how to build confidence: they create bold personas, own the way they look, command attention using powerful body positions, aren't afraid to take risks, and can shake off criticism with a flip of their wig. When I found myself in challenging personal and business situations, I started thinking, "What Would a Drag Queen Do?" I wondered how I could live every day with that sense of empowerment.

Something that RuPaul said really changed my thinking about how I could attain the same confidence as the queens I watched on the show. She said, "You're born naked and the rest is drag."

Most of us think of drag as being a performance art for the stage. But RuPaul's insight is that we create and perform personas in our everyday life. Whether you know it or not, you are doing drag right now. You do drag every day. Your drag is not just what you wear, but also how you act, what you say, how you say it, and how you carry yourself. And we can transform ourselves into any persona we want, just as we did when we were kids on Halloween. What I wanted was the power and confidence of the drag performers I saw on TV. Hell, if men could make this amazing transformation into fierce glamazons through drag, why couldn't I? So while still doing my day job, I decided that I, Jackie Huba, would become — wait for it — a drag queen!

As I mentioned earlier, women can do drag. When most people think of drag performers, they think of men performing as female characters who are, of course, called drag queens. Actually, there are other lesser-known categories of drag: women who perform in drag as male characters are called drag kings, and women who do drag as female characters are known as bio-queens, faux queens, or simply female drag queens. That's what I wanted to do.

I began to immerse myself in the world of drag. I watched hundreds of live drag performances, went on two drag cruises, interviewed the world's top drag queens about how they create their powerful female personas, and got their advice on how to do the same for myself. Many of the queens I interviewed have been on RuPaul's Drag Race, because in the drag world these performers represent the best of the best. I interviewed Courtney Act, Derrick Barry, April Carrion, Adore Delano, Laganja Estranja, Miss Fame, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Jujubee, Trixie Mattel, Chad Michaels, Coco Montrese, Phi Phi O'Hara, Raven, Latrice Royale, Yara Sofia, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and Katya Zamolodchikova.

I mentored with a local drag mother; developed my own drag persona named Lady Trinity; learned how to do theatrical makeup, wig, and costume styling; mastered the art of lipsyncing; and learned to playfully seduce my audiences (large and small). I've performed in some of the top drag events in the world. And I've met multitudes of others who've also been transformed by their love of drag queens, some of whom are profiled in this book. I want you to be transformed the way they were.

An Invitation to Be Fiercely You

This is your chance, your opportunity to make a change. You are reading this book because you long for something more. You want to be more you. You are tired of hiding the shiny, sparkly parts of yourself because of the fear of criticism. You want to experience the feeling of being your most fabulous self. You want to be confident, strong, full of life. This book will show you how to do it — how to be fiercely you.

Fiercely You is the culmination of what I (Jackie) have learned from the world of drag. It is a personal growth guide to help you ignore criticism, live life more fearlessly, and become the fierce and fabulous creature you may dream of being every day by learning lessons taught by drag queens. It will offer advice from other people who have been transformed by using drag queens as role models and will trace my personal experience of diving into the Queendom. My collaborator, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, will dissect and explain how the lessons we can learn from drag queens are rooted in well-researched concepts in psychology. Everyone, meet Shelly!

Hello, darlings! I'm Shelly, and here are the letters after my name: MDiv, MA, LMFTA. Let me break that down for you: master's degree in divinity from a Lutheran seminary. I was ordained as a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and was the pastor of a wonderful old country church outside of Austin, Texas. Next is the master of arts degree in counseling, with a dual track for both LPC and LMFT. Those letters stand for licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist, but I chose to go the LMFT route and am currently licensed as an associate in that field.

All of these letters and degrees may impress you and assure you that I just might know what I'm talking about. Or maybe they'll just bore you — I'm OK with that, too. What the letters don't show you is that I, too, am fully engaged in becoming fiercely me, and I want to share with you why this book works. Because it does. And the reason why it works is that its premises rest on strong psychological foundations. The book is more than merely anecdotal, it is supported by scholarly research on the psychological issues of power, the structure of personality, the construction and performance of our identity, and the ways in which change can be produced in our lives. It is a privilege for me to provide that information for you and to help you become the person you dream of being.

Thanks, Shelly! Now let's get started! In this book you will find the five Keys to Fierce that will unlock your inner fabulousness and help you think like a fierce drag queen in your everyday life. They are:

1. Create Your Drag Persona. Consciously create the person you've always wanted to be.

2. Always Look Sickening in Everyday Drag. Dress for power.

3. Strike a Pose and Embody Your Power. Use power posing and physicality to instill inner confidence.

4. Tell Your Critics to Sashay Away. Quiet both inner and outer critics.

5. You Better Werk! Take small risks to propel yourself to taking even bigger ones.

These keys unlock the wisdom that will set you free: you get to control who you are in this world. Too many of you feel controlled by your significant others, your bosses, your friends, your children, your parents. You feel that you need to fulfill their expectations of you. You succumb to the perceptions you think they have of you — perceptions that you aren't smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, capable enough. We want you to consider less what other people think and instead focus on becoming who you were meant to be. Only you can let out that inner queen who is confident in herself no matter what other people think. Only you can create the amazing person you see inside your head and feel in your heart.

The next five chapters will break down in detail the five Keys to Fierce. Each chapter has a similar format that looks like this:

• An explanation of each key.

• How Jackie and her drag alter ego, Lady Trinity, experienced this key.

Notes from the Stage: insights and advice from top drag queens on this key.

Notes from Everyday Queens: profiles of real people who are shining examples of how this key has worked for them.

Notes from the Couch: proven psychological research that supports how this key improves confidence levels. Shelly will break down the research into layman's terms and explain the science behind why these keys really work.

Notes for Your Drag Diary: specific homework assignments to help you personalize each key. The "Drag Diary" is where you record your thoughts, fears, excitement, and progress of working through each key. The "diary" could be any place you want to record your thoughts: a paper notebook, the notepad on your phone, and so on. It's important to write down your progress so that you can reflect back on the new things you have tried and be inspired by your past accomplishments.

By the way, these are not just suggestions. We want you to connect with those people who do see your potential and make them a bigger part of your lives, so they can cheer on your accomplishments and remind you of how fabulous you are when you are feeling less than confident. We want to form a community to make this change. That's why we are introducing the "50 Days to Fierce Challenge!" Gather your like-minded friends, either as a book club, a meet-up, or in our online community through our website, Post your efforts on social media for the world to see and support. Change can happen. It's all within your control. Because remember, as RuPaul said, you are already in drag. You can create a powerful, confident persona that is fiercely you just by deciding to do it.

An important note as we move forward: we are not suggesting that to gain these benefits of feeling fabulous and more confident you need to actually become a drag queen. The idea here is to take the ways that drag queens create fierce, bold personas and apply them to our everyday lives to create self-confidence. But in order to apply them, we can't just change our thinking; we have to change our actions. You will be asked to do things that you may never have done before, things that might make you feel silly, or embarrassed, or uncomfortable. Things that might push your boundaries. Of course, you are still in control of what you do, and nothing you are asked to do will be untoward. There are ways to incorporate a fabulous new you without breaking a dress code at work. Shelly even has a story about wearing stiletto heels under her clergy robe! The big idea here is that when we push ourselves, even just a little, to do things outside our comfort zone, we feel liberated, as though we can take on something else we feel afraid of. Taking action makes us feel more confident. That said, in the Drag Diary sections of the keys, we will prescribe advanced activities for those who are "drag curious," that is, who want to have a more adventurous drag experience.


Excerpted from Fiercely You by Jackie Huba, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs. Copyright © 2016 Jackie Huba and Shelly Stewart Kronbergs. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Setting Sail for the Queendom 1

Part 1 Why Fierce Matters 9

The Need for Fierce 11

Learn from the Queens of Fierce 15

An Invitation to Be Fiercely You 19

Part 2 The Keys to Fierce 25

The First Key: Create Your Drag Persona 27

The Second Key: Always Look Sickening in Everyday Drag 49

The Third Key: Strike a Pose and Embody Your Power 85

The Fourth Key: Tell Your Critics to Sashay Away 115

The Fifth Key: You Better Werk! 133

Conclusion: Living Fiercely Every Day 155

Epilogue: Doing Drag on a TED Stage 157

A Drag Primer: Know Your Herstory 163

Glossary of Drag Terms 169

Notes 173

Acknowledgments 185

Index 195

About the Authors 207

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