When MilDred finally decided to shave her head after a lifetime of “trying to be beautiful” with endless variations on braids, perms, finger waves and weaves, she says a weight was lifted off of her spirit as well as her head. Self-imposed baldness is bold and gutsy, especially on a woman, but that’s what it takes to make a style statement that is uncommonly elegant. She is arrestingly pretty and handsome with or without hair, her skin glows in a way that most people would spend thousands of dollars to emulate and she has the good taste to know that less is more, wearing no makeup except for her black lipstick and moisturizer. Bullied and teased relentlessly as a kid, MilDred uses the negative labels as a means of transforming self-loathing into self-worth. “Tar baby is now beautiful black cocoa skin, nappy hair is now perfectly shaved head and flat feet are powerful roots” of her Haitian culture. “It’s all about how you choose to experience yourself…I either trust and love myself, or others will enslave me. I choose my spirit.” The fact that MilDred grew up suicidal because of how ugly she felt in this society is shameful and we really do need to ask ourselves how things got this way and who is controlling these notions of what is attractive?
The quintessential question that MilDred challenges us all to answer is, “Can you handle the mystery?” She has found personal freedom from our culture’s imprisoning belief systems through her spiritually uplifting performances as a drag king where she embraces the gift and range of human sexuality. Whether it’s Dred in a man’s suit, tie and beard with her female voice or MilDred in a white halter dress, it is the juxtaposition and exploration of masculine and feminine dynamics that has taught her to welcome everything about herself that she was trained to hate. Something that MilDred finds most disturbing is the notion of who or who isn’t a sinner, based on the moment that Eve took a bite of the apple. We are all human she makes evident, no matter the many shades of our particular temptations.