Tag Archives: roller derby

Proof that roller derby is better than other sports

Right now, I am the strongest I’ve ever been. I admire my biceps. I marvel at my muscular thighs. We had to put the Elvis mirror up higher in the kitchen because I was constantly checking out my derby butt.

It wasn’t always like this – when I was skinny and when I was fat, I still hid my body. I’ve never cared what strangers thought of it, but I’ve always been so worried that people I know will look at my not-perfect body and think less of me. (No doubt this comes from growing up in a family who felt entitled to comment on my body all the time. Particularly during puberty. If you feel entitled to comment on someone’s body, stop fucking doing that.)

I figured this new body confidence was the result of playing sport. Of being physically active in a way I haven’t been for almost 25 years. But it’s not. This body confidence, this body satisfaction, it’s not a sport thing. It’s a roller derby thing. Peer-reviewed research says so.

For a lot of female athletes, there is conflict between their social world and their sporting world: to be successful in the former, they need to be feminine in appearance and demeanour, but to be successful in the latter they need to have strong muscular bodies and show characteristics associated with masculinity, such as assertiveness and competitiveness (Krane et al, 2004). So while they are proud of their muscular bodies in a sports setting, they tend to be self-conscious and have lower body image in a social setting. That’s no surprise. The ideal Western female athlete is slim, toned, white, and heterosexual-presenting – hell, that also describes the ideal Western woman and it is so damn hard to not internalise all that patriarchal bullshit. But this is where it gets interesting. Research by Andrea Eklund and Barbara Masberg (2014) indicates that playing roller derby leads to better body image, greater body satisfaction, and – in a surprise to no one who has been around derby players – a tendency to wear tight clothes in daily life. Wearing tight/revealing clothing at training and in bouts gives derby players the confidence to wear tight/revealing clothing in social settings. This finding contradicts research into other women’s sports that indicates that wearing revealing uniforms leads to lower body confidence (Krane et al, 2004).

Eklund and Masberg (2014) suggest that derby creates greater body acceptance, and acceptance of all body types, because unlike other sports, derby does not have an ideal-typical body type for that sport. Derby values all body types. However, in one of the greatest sentences to appear in an academic journal, “It should be noted that the respondents valued “booty”,” (Eklund and Masberg, 2014, p. 60).

This high level of body satisfaction and acceptance is also found in rugby (Fields and Comstock, 2008) and in belly dancing, which is one of the few styles in which dancers are not pressured to lose weight or to conform to any particular body shape (Downeya et al, 2010). Like derby, belly dancing promotes healthy body image in participants. Downeya et al (2010) suggest that belly dancing provides some sort of “immunity effect” in relation to social norms about ideal body types.

So there you have it. Proof that roller derby is better than other sports. I love the idea of getting immunised against harmful Western feminine ideals. An injection would be easier than learning to play derby, but it wouldn’t be as much fun. Not by a long shot. I fucking love my roller derby team.

References:
Downeya, D., Reelb, J., SooHoob, S., and Zerbib, S. (2010). Body image in belly dance: Integrating alternative norms into collective identity. Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 19, pp. 377–393.

Eklund, A. and Masberg, B. (2014). Participation in Roller Derby, the Influence on Body Image. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 49-64.

Fields, S. K., and Comstock, R. D. (2008). Why American women play rugby. Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal, vol. 17, pp. 8–16.

Krane, V., Choi, P., Baird, S., Aimar, C., and Kauer, K. (2004). Living the paradox: Female athletes negotiate femininity and muscularity. Sex Roles, vol. 50, pp. 315–329.

I am a girl

I get why women say that roller derby changed their life. I tried out for the Inner West Roller Derby League last year because I couldn’t bear the gym being my only physical activity. My desk is just eight steps from my bed, so I’m not even getting the ‘walk to the station’ exercise that comes from commuting. I’ve always been uninterested in sport (watching and playing), so joining a team was completely out of character.

I was expecting to get really good at skating, get some impressive bruises, and to wear hotpants. What I wasn’t expecting was to be instantly welcomed into a family of fabulous people with excellent hair, gorgeous tattoos, and great names.

Before I started playing, life had become pretty blah. It wasn’t particularly bad, it just was. I’d been sick for a while, and there was a sameness to each day. But the energy and laughter from playing derby spread to the rest of my life. I started wearing more colours. I met a bunch of awesome women I admired on twitter. I started hosting a writers’ night (next one in April, by the way). Derby marked the point where I got my mojo back. So yeah, when women say that roller derby changed their life, I totally get that.

But – and this is the point of this post, I was just giving you that feel-good stuff to hook you in – we don’t just smash each other on the track and then go for beers afterwards. We’re also trying to do some good shit for other people. Which is why we’re holding a charity screening of I am a girl on Thursday 27th February:

The film follows six young women from Cambodia, PNG, Cameroon, Afghanistan, USA and Australia. It explores what it means to be born a girl in the 21st century.

There’ll be a Q&A session with the award-winning filmmaker Rebecca Barry, and because it’s a derby event, there’ll also be delicious cakes.

The money raised is going to Twenty10, an organisation that supports young people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities.

Date: Thursday 27th February
Time: doors open 7pm, film starts at 7:30pm
Venue: Red Ratter, 6 Faversham St, Marrickville
Tickets: $12 (get ‘em here: http://bit.ly/1nFHbLp)
Here’s the Facebook page.

Come along, say hi, get to know your local derby team, and watch a great film. We’re doing freshmeat soon so perhaps you’ll join us on the track. It might just change your life.

My thighs! My thighs!

A few months ago I said I was going to try out for roller derby. I hadn’t skated since primary school – apart from a few times in the hall at boarding school in year 8 – so I made a plan. It was an awesome plan involving Rollerfit (a fitness class on skates) to get used to being on wheels again, and the gym to “get fit”, which is as nicely vague as “getting my shit together”. So not really a plan at all, but two basic things so I’m not completely shit.

I went to Rollerfit four or five times, and then I got sick. Proper sick. Sick for two months. I was meant to go to hospital at one point to be put on an antibiotic drip, but going to emergency at midnight on a Saturday? No thank you. Even had to have a CT scan on my head to see why I was a dizzy snot factory. It’s still a mystery, but I’m better now and have some funny stories about the oxycodone days.

Anyway, suddenly – suddenly! – it was tryouts. At the info session I discovered that everyone else has been doing the raw meat course to prepare them for it. Oh well. And I still had the wrong skates. Oh well. But at least I wasn’t grey anymore. Yay normal face colour.

And I fucking did it! I got in!

Hang on, let me say that properly.

I FUCKING DID IT!

I GOT IN!

Ron Swanson

The glorious Ron Swanson doing the “News with Nipples is on the team” dance. The young people will be doing it in the discotheques soon.

Yesterday was our first fresh meat training session and faaaark me, do I hurt today. Two hours of knee slides, double knee slides, 180 degree knee slides, baseball slides, and hanging out in derby stance. I LOVED it but today my thighs certainly don’t love it. Nor does the side I did most of my baseball slides on – although it’s more accurate to call them “half stacking it and once getting a wheel in a place it has no business being in” slides.

Here’s a demo of 180 degree and baseball slides:

Oh, I got a pair of derby skates. They have the Black Wheels of Death so of course I stacked it while standing still. New wheels will have to wait ’til pay day.

I haven’t played sport or been on a team in 23 years and now I am doing both. Voluntarily. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

I’m putting it in writing

I just went to the gym for the first time in ages.

It was so boring.

So just then I decided that this year I’m going to try out for roller derby.

Not like last year where in the late hours of NYE, @lozowl and I made a deal but then ignored it. (And in 2009, and in 2011 and for fuck’s sake lady just get on with it because this body ain’t gettin’ any younger.)

I need two things:

1. A pre-tryout training checklist so when I do go to the fresh meat tryouts (in September?) they’re all OH MY GOD YOU ARE THE BEST FRESHER WE’VE HAD IN AGES AND YOU SO TOTALLY CAN’T TELL THAT YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO COMPETE IN AUSSIE MASTERS EVENTS IF YOU WERE BEACHY AND SPORTY.

2. A really fucking awesome derby name. Go!

Call me a rude name

Tonight, ManFriend and I are seeing the fabulously deep-voiced Graveyard Train:

I’m not sure they’d like being called fabulous. It doesn’t sound hairy enough.

And last week we saw Mikelangelo and the Tin Star. This is one of my favourites from Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen (especially when you get to 4.39… HOT!):

Which means my birthday has been bookended by two of my favourite live bands.

But now I have a request for you. SuperCat and I went to roller derby last weekend and I want to go to their next fresh meat tryouts. Hopefully I’m not too old to smash tough ladies on skates. But first, I need a crackingly rude name. Suggestions?

Strange days

Do you have those days where you end up just doing laps of the house?

I’m having one of those days.

It’s like I woke up and forgot what I do all day. And I’m woefully underemployed, so sometimes I do wonder what I do all day.

I got home late last night after seeing Whip It, and was a bit too excited – albeit excited quietly, so I didn’t wake Man Friend – thinking about finally having the balls to join a roller derby team. 1am rolled around pretty quickly. So I slept in this morning, hence the feeling listless. Or is that just me that happens to?

Anyway, it got me thinking about free time and how I’m really good at wasting it. A couple of friends are heading to South America in a few days, and at the pub with them last week Dan Friend was saying how he wished he had all the spare time I do. (I only work part time at the moment.) I said I wished I had enough of an income to save money to go on holidays like he and Jess Friend are always doing. Is it always a trade-off?