Women’s and gender studies


What is “realness,” and why is it so important in ball culture? What does it teach us about gender/sexual identities more generally?

What is “realness,” and why is it so important in ball culture? What does it teach us about gender/sexual identities more generally?


One of the hardest parts about being a ball culture practitioner is figuring out what “realness” means. It’s not an easy term, and it’s often used in ways that can be confusing or offensive. But if you want to be an effective accomplice in your local community, it’s important that you understand what realness entails and why it matters so much in this space. In this article we’ll explore some of the complexities of “realness,” including how it relates to gender/sexual identities more generally; why body image issues are such a big problem within communities like ours; how authenticity plays into all of this; and more!


“Realness” is about finding your true self and being true to yourself. It’s about being true to your community, family, and friends. Realness can mean different things for different people:

  • For some people it means being comfortable in their own skin; they don’t care what others think of them as long as they feel good about themselves inside.
  • For others it means embracing the parts of themselves that society doesn’t like or accepts (for example: queer or trans). This may include clothing choices (such as wearing makeup), sexual preferences/orientations (like liking girls instead of boys), gender identity expression (being non-binary) or any other aspect of identity that goes against cultural norms surrounding gender roles and expectations set forth by society at large.*

Realness and the Body

Realness is about finding your true self. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin and being true to yourself. Realness is about being authentic, not just for yourself but also for others who may be looking for someone like them: someone who can relate to them and understand their struggles, someone who can show up as themselves without needing to fit into a certain mold or conform to certain expectations.

Being real means being able to take credit when it’s due; it means accepting responsibility when something goes wrong; it means admitting when you’re wrong or not up-to-date on something important (such as knowing how to use an iPhone). In short: being real allows us all—men and women alike—to share our bodies freely without shame or embarrassment!

What does realness mean?

The term “realness” refers to finding your true self. It’s about being true to yourself and expressing your individuality, as well as being able to express your identity and values without fear of judgment. Realness is also about being true to what you believe in—whether that be political or religious beliefs, or the idea that we should live life on our own terms instead of following someone else’s agenda.

The idea behind “realness” was coined by Roxy Morin (aka Roxy Moron) who used it during her late teens/early twenties years when she started out as an artist with a focus on fashion design but eventually broadened her interests into other mediums such as film making and music production which led me back down memory lane when I met up with her again after many years apart!

Realness is about finding your true self.

Realness is about finding your true self. It’s about being true to yourself, your feelings and experiences. Realness is also about being true to your identity—the way you see yourself in the world and who you are as a person.

The term “realness” has been used by many people over time: from hip-hop artists such as 50 Cent to pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé; from ballroom dancers like Julianne Moore & Derek Hough; even by young trans women of color who are rejecting mainstream beauty standards in favor of more authentic looks (or even just not wearing makeup).


We must not forget that realness is a process, not an end product. We should never place too much importance on the idea of “realness” as an ideal. It is more important to remember that we are all human beings who experience our lives in different ways and for different reasons; there is no one right way to do anything! The best way to ensure that we continue to grow as individuals and as a community is by listening to each other’s experiences, thoughts and opinions with respect: through open dialogue about gender, sexuality & race.

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