Canada’s Drag Race star reacts to body shaming claims: ‘Shouldn’t have said that’
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WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Canada’s Drag Race.
Canada’s Drag Race has returned to BBC iPlayer with another new episode of the hit competition.
The latest episode saw the queens battle it out in an improvised pageant before taking to the runway.
Some thrived under the pressure while others struggled to perfect their characters leaving Ilona Verley and Priyanka to lip sync for their lives.
In the final decision, it was Ilona who left the competition ahead of the final five so Express.co.uk sat down with her to chat about her exit.
Speaking about her time on the show, the queen said: “It was a whirlwind, it was a dream come true.
“At the end of my time on the show I was just so happy and overcome with joy that I got to have my drag and my art immortalised on the show.”
As a fan of the show for such a long time, Ilona revealed how excited she was to join the series, which also understandably made it tough for her to leave the competition.
However, she revealed she had a unique way of dealing with her criticisms from the judges.
She admitted: “You know, I kind of blocked them all out! I remember that episode looking around just looking at all the lights, the stage set up and I think at one point Brooklyn asked me if I was paying attention and I just smiled and said ‘Sorry I zoned out!’”
Ilona did reveal there was a reason behind her approach as it was hard though to not take the criticism personally as drag is such a huge part of who she is.
She added: “My drag is such an extension of who I am, that it’s very personal to me in a way that it might not be for someone who just does drag for fun or as a hobby.
“Drag is a part of my identity as a trans person so I take critiques on my looks very personally, on a very deeper level.
“So at that point for my own mental health I had to kind of tune it out!”
However, there was one particular piece of criticism which was a point of controversy in the media after last week’s episode.
This came when judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman made a comment about how Ilona should have used foundation on her bottom during the runway.
Some fans saw this as body shaming and took to social media to voice their opinions about it.
Responding to the allegations, Ilona said: “You know in the moment of filming there were many other things that were said that didn’t make the episode, that to me felt more body shaming.
“So their critique necessarily about putting foundation on my butt, in the moment I didn’t really take offence to that.
“And then seeing the overwhelming response on Twitter and social media about that really kind of opened my eyes to go like, ‘Oh, yeah, maybe they shouldn’t have said that.
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“‘That is kind of problematic.’ That’s going to make people feel ashamed of their bodies if they’re showing skin and not putting foundation on it, that’s kind of a weird message to put out.
“I understand in drag we’re presenting a fantasy, but you know for me my drag is a part of my reality and for so many other people their reality is their body and they can’t be perfect all the time.”
This was particularly close to Ilona’s heart as during her time on the competition as she spoke about how she really wanted to represent her own drag as a indigenous and non-binary queen.
During the show, fans will remember how she opened up about being two-spirited, which is a term used by some indigeonous people to express their gender identity of having both a masculine and a feminine spirit.
She explained: “Growing up I never got to turn on the TV or watch a movie and see someone that was like me and I grew up lacking indigenous representation in my life.”
And now she’s left the show, she’s hopeful to keep educating and inspiring more people with her drag.
Ilona added: “That was kind of my mission going in. I didn’t really go into Drag Race to win.
“I went in there to make a difference and hopefully touch people and build lasting connections.”
Canada’s Drag Race airs weekly on Fridays on BBC iPlayer via BBC Three.
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