By Josh Saunders
Meet the 11-year-old drag queen who transforms society’s expectations of women into hyper-feminised looks for herself.
Bracken Hanke, from Vancouver, Canada, has been dressing in elaborately colourful clothing and wearing exaggerated makeup designs for two-years now.
After watching TV hit, RuPaul’s Drag Race with mum Dominque, 36, she was fascinated by the big outfits, larger than life personalities and says, ‘I knew these were my people.’
The family originally from Kinver, Staffordshire, have supported her four-hour transformation into a ‘hyper-queen’ thanks to her eight wigs, ten outfits and makeup.
She regularly dresses in drag and practices applying her ‘warpaint’ XXweekXXX as a way to live out some of her more extraverted personality traits.
While in her costumes, she attracts stares in public, questions about her appearance and has experienced ‘every kind of shocked face imaginable.’
Bracken, who intends to continue drag into adulthood, said: “For my drag I take whatever society says, ‘a girl should look like’ and take it too one hundred instead of 10%.
“I like different elements of each look I have made. Anytime that I stick sparkles, flowers, gems or whatever else to my face I love it.
“I am a huge fan of looks that have bright pink lips and the colour baby blue because they are known as the gender colours, so if I put them together it makes me feel a bit more open to gender.
“When I walk down the street wearing lipstick the reaction is funny, but when I’m in full drag people’s facial expressions are hilarious.
“They have wide eyes and look baffled, you can think of any kind of shocked face and I’ve probably seen it, it’s kind of hilarious.
“I do enjoy being the oddball, as far as I’m aware I’m the only drag kid in Vancouver, I’m the only one outwardly exposing myself as a drag kid anyway.
“I’m an extrovert at school but I do find in drag I can let out all this energy inside of me and really go crazy with all of my personality traits that are a bit too much.
“When I’m just regular Bracken I have this reputation that I have to keep and social life, so I can’t be over the top with my friends otherwise no one would want to hang out with me.
“But in drag, I can be whacky, funny, a bit of an oddball and throw out a bunch of personality traits that I keep inside while around friends.
“I love being the weirdo, I’m the weirdo at school and at home, I’m an extrovert, I like turning heads and people wondering ‘what’s up with that girl?’”
Mum Dominque recognised her daughter was different from other children at an early age.
At around five-years-old, she cried watching Brazilian women on a beach exposing them bottoms, believing it to be because ‘for men’ and not them.
Dominique said: “We never spoke about the sexualisation of women or anything like that, it was something where she had these real ideas of equality at a young age.
“Then she has always been into quirky clothes and dressing up to take a different spin on life.
“She’s not a typical little girl, always dressing up putting fun hats on and with me working in fashion we always had an outlet for that.”
Bracken started drag two-years-ago, initially taking cues from other drag queens and the stars she worships on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but now she’s finding her own style.
She said: “I’m a hyper-queen, because I take the elements of your average female and I enhance it, making it 1,000% and a celebration of femininity.
Dominique added: “She loves sparkles, pink, makeup that verges on a Japanese style and she plays off the girly side that doesn’t reflect her personality normally.
“She doesn’t wear pink normally or her hair in pigtails, but in drag she hyper-feminises.
“Make-up is seen as a war paint that you put on your face to express who you are and how you are feeling, she enjoys being able to express herself that way.
“She takes what culture and society says she should present and multiples that by 100 and adds glitter to it.”
Dominique supports her daughter’s decision to dress in drag, believing the LGBTQ+ to be one of the safest places for a person to express themselves.
Most recently while Bracken was in full attire during Pride parade this month, she was mobbed with fans who adored her look.
Dominque said: “I think that’s amazing and a great thing, if she wanted to wear jeans and t-shirt I wouldn’t stop that either, but she likes wearing different colours, sparkles and all of these fun things.
“She has a big personality and has always liked fashion, we all express ourselves through our clothing, she’s not a shop-book personality she wants to be quirky and out there.
“I think she is really happy and having fun while in drag, but there’s nothing more to it, for her it’s a case of being able to come up with a more inventive and grand way of being.”
Bracken says that away from strangers staring at her, friends are supportive and while not all of them understand it, they have not treated her differently.
She added: “It’s one of those things that’s weird and not normal.
“Everyone love dance and gymnastics, that’s like everyone has a common thing, but for me I go home from school and thrown on makeup and a silly dress.
“I don’t necessarily have a drag persona, but I do feel more confident about myself when I’m in drag.
“I do believe I will continue my drag career, this is one of my passions. Some things I have tried them and was good but stopped, but with drag have enjoyed doing it for two years now.
“When I’m myself, there’s a specific person I have to be because I have my reputation. But in drag I can whip anything out of my hat and can be the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
You can follow Bracken on www.instagram.com/brackenhanke