The Best of trAC/DC

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Oct 212013
 

IMG_0432I think it’s totally  weird to write about myself in the third person, so I’m not going to. I’m trAC/DC: founder, editor, destroyer, and resuscitator of LDG. I started LDG in 2009 when I was fresh meat for Red Stick Roller Derby in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This site witnessed the blossoming of my love for roller derby, the demise of my marriage, multiple personal epiphanies, and eventually the frustrated fizzling of my love affair with the sport. I started it back up now because I think LDG has something unique to offer the derbyverse: thoughtfully written and thought-provoking writing by a diverse group of women from around the globe. And I started playing again.

It’s also totally weird to write a “Best Of” of your own work, so here’s a combination of my own most popular pieces and the ones I personally like best. I put them in order of my personal preference.

1. Overcoming the Dark Side of Roller Derby: This is the most talked about piece I wrote for LDG. It’s about the real social and political aspects of being involved with a team. It’s about not pretending that roller derby is a perfect world of rainbow-covered relationships. It’s also about learning to be a team player on a not perfect team.

2. Roller Derby Ate My Marriage: This piece is about how playing roller derby led to a series of personal revelations that led to my divorce.

3. It’s Not You. It’s Me: This is the breakup letter to roller derby that I didn’t know I meant to write.

4. Unpacking My (Personal Skate) Baggage: This piece is about letting go of expectations that hold you back from becoming a better player.

5. The Accidental Derby Girl: This is the first thing I wrote about derby, and it’s about how I happened onto the sport totally by accident.

 

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The Best of Villainelle

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Oct 182013
 

1379615_10202010995017573_276397421_nVillainelle was probably the most prolific, and definitely the smartest, writer for the old LDG. She started writing for LDG at about the same time she started skating for Red Stick Roller Derby in Baton Rouge. She changed a lot over the years, and her LDG work tracks her evolution, personal and derby-wise. She went from being sort of a scaredy cat (sorry, Vill) who skated around the edges of practice to being a fantastic blammer on RSRD’s A-Team, the Diables Rouges. Now she’s the President of RSRD, in nursing school, and basically a total badass. Here are some of her best pieces on LDG.

The Woman You’ve Always Been: This is Vill’s first post, and it should be required reading for anyone new to derby. She talks a lot about what drew her to derby and how it helped her find herself. It’s raw and personal and brave as shit.

I’m Not Sorry: Vill on learning how NOT to apologize.

This Feminist Darkness: Arguably the best writing on roller derby and feminism. But don’t argue with me about it. Just read it.

Sex and Roller Derby: Kinda speaks for itself.

What My Hot Pants Mean To Me: Vill on body dysmorphia and learning to love her ass.

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Jul 272011
 

Last month, my team (The Red Stick Roller Derby Capitol Defenders) had our first official win of the season.

Actually, I’m not saying that right.  I’m making it sound formal, which is not how I feel about it at all.  If I were expressing it in a manner in line with my emotions, I ought to say something more like, We fucking WON!  We finally WON, Bitches! But either way, I guess you get the idea.  I’m excited, obviously.

 

But not as excited as Hitter, who jumped Madi, skates and all. (Photo Credit to AKoch Photography)

 

 

It’s been a hard season for us, full of injuries and absences and a constantly changing roster.  For its first 3 years, our league only had one team.  Red Stick, pure and simple.  At first, the growth of the league was too slow to truly trouble this set-up.  The girls would occasionally play an intra-league bout, but for the most part they worked on bulking up the roster of the single team, changing the line-ups slightly for each game.  And then, sometime during that 3rd year, we began to grow.  I was a part of that growth, part of the sudden influx of newbies skating around the far end of the rink with the refs, trying not too look too stupid or make too many waves.  My fresh meat class, which entered the rink for the first time in April of 2010 (I think?  Why don’t I have this written down??), was the first of several – the first set of Red Stick Ladies to receive official training before being thrown into the pack to sink or scrimmage.

Since that April, four full classes of freshies have passed their MSTs and become part of the league.  After the second of these classes, it became clear that we were finally getting big enough for two teams: an A team and a B team.  An All-Star roster (the Diables Rouges) and a roster for newer players.  It made sense; after all, the Southern region was expanding rapidly, with teams of all skill levels rising up all around us.  While the All-Stars worked on WFTDA certification by playing more advanced opponents, the newer ladies could hone their skills competing against the teams the All-Stars had played in the past, along with some of the greener teams sprouting up in the area.

Being a member of the B team hasn’t been easy.  During nearly every game this season we’ve received a thorough scrubbing, then gone on to watch our A-team sisters juke and block their way to glory, breaking past challenge after challenge to become a better unit, a better candidate for WFTDA status.

We were overcoming challenges too.  But our victories were small.  During one away game this year, we nearly cried from excitement when we managed to get beat by fewer than 100 points. It was literally the greatest thing that had ever happened.  Sometimes we could barely scrape together our thoughts when, during team pow-wow, our A-team coaches asked us what we thought had gone WELL during the bout.  “We fell down less?”  we’d venture.  Or, “We kept up with the pack!” (said with an air of surprise). Or, my personal favorite, “We seemed a little more like we knew what we were doing this time.”

So when we finally won our June bout, by over 100 points (check out THAT reversal!!), we barely knew how to react.  Mad Hitter doubled over in fits of laughter and crying, then threw herself flat onto the floor of the locker room.  C-Murda talked about whether she should laugh or cry, but then decided to shout instead.  Mauley Rinkwyld called absentee teammate TrAC/DC (who is, sadly, in Houston for the summer) and screamed into her voicemail.  I nearly suffocated A-team member Turbo Tyke with a victory hug when I caught her in the hallway between locker rooms, and I’m pretty sure I might’ve punched Jams P. Skullivan on the arm out of some weird testosterone-fueled need to seem more dude-like in my elation.  We slapped each others’ asses, hugged each other tight, and just generally effused about how excited we were to be together, to be playing, to be making progress, to be winning.

And we tempered our excitement, too, with anguish.  During the last few minutes of the game, Summer Squasher took two hard hits from two formidable blockers nearly

Summer showing her mad skills as a jammer (Photo Credit to AKoch Photography)

simultaneously and fell to the ground with what we would eventually learn was a broken tibia and a broken fibula.  By the end of the night, her husband (and our team doctor) Dr. Squasher was texting to tell us that the breaks would require surgery the next morning – a rod and a plate and some screws.  Summer’s playing was one of the highlights of the game.  As a blocker she had attacked the other team’s blockers with an efficiency and aggressiveness our humble B-team had never experienced.  And then, as a jammer in the second half, she continued her assault on the scoreboard, racking up points hopping through the pack as though she barely even had to touch the ground.  At one point during the night, I called her “Queen of the World.”  We saw her at her best, and then suddenly she was taken out.  We had won in part because of her, but she was carried away on a stretcher before we could share the elation.  And so we sent her texts, hoping she’d receive them from her hospital room.  We posted messages on her facebook wall and made plans to visit her as soon as we could.  We had TrAC, her derby wife, calling her from Houston, telling her we loved her and believed in her.  But still, we wanted her there, lying on the sweaty locker room floor next to us, taking in the excitement with her calm, steady manner.  We wanted her dancing at the after party with us, paragon of the derby belief that those who work hard deserve to play hard too.

That win was an important one for us – one that came at exactly the right moment.  The losing season had been causing our teamwork to suffer, sending us reeling in frustration and anger with each defeat.  Sometimes we lashed out at one another, and in the early days of the season we had sought hard for an answer, a scapegoat on which we could pin our disappointment.  We had worked our asses off, and losing felt like an insult to our efforts.  Surely it wasn’t our fault.  Surely outside forces were conspiring against us.  And then the big win came. After an entire season of feeling frustrated and splintered by losses, finally we found something we could agree on: winning felt good.  We liked winning.  We wanted to do it again, together.

And then, a month later, our elation went sour.

After a month of riding high on the wave of victory, we faced the same team on their home turf Saturday night.  And we lost. By 8 fucking points.

A switch-up like that is never easy.  Our win the month before had seemed so flawless and coordinated; we couldn’t understand why the same plays felt like they weren’t working, why our pairing seemed off and our packs seemed like loose collections of legs and arms rather than tight and conscious waterfalling machines.  When you’ve fought so hard for a win, only to turn around and lose to the same team a month later, you’re left with a lot of questions.  And in many ways, our reactions to the loss were as deeply varied as our reactions to the win. We wanted to scream.  We wanted to cry.  We wanted not to feel so overwhelingly failed.

And the thing about failure is that it feels so individual. When we made that win, we did it because we were together. We were a team.  All of a sudden, when we lost again, the fragile team-ocity we’d cultivated suddenly broke apart.  We needed someone to blame – and none of us wanted to be at fault.  We won together, but we wanted to believe that the loss belonged to one or two people, or – even better – one or two completely uncontrollable circumstances.  The calls were bad.  The rink was hot.  The opponent was stacked.  Surely it was anything but us.

We have one more bout, at home, on August 20th.  And I want us to win.  I want us to close out the season riding a high like the one we felt in June.  But more than that, I want us to feel like a team again.  I want us to be able to overcome the strains and cracks caused by an unexpected loss.  I want us to put it behind us, to remember that nobody’s perfect, and to remember that we need each other. I want us to be able to sacrifice our own egos for the good of the team.  Because, however things turn out, I want to walk away knowing that we protected our jammers at all costs, working seamlessly in packs, and fought our hearts out for our teammates from beginning to end, regardless of how we feel about each other off the track.

I love my Capitol Defenders, and I don’t want to see us split apart.  This is our last one of the season, girls.  Let’s prove that we belong together.

Me, Uni-Psycho, and C-Murda smiling BEFORE the big loss. Guess what? I love them just as much AFTER the loss. Go figure.

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Apr 092011
 

Learning to Fall

The thing is, we aren’t perfect. And the people who expect us to be are just assholes. We fight sometimes. We backstab and nitpick. We form cliques and break confidences. We mess up. But I hope that we don’t turn away from each other in those moments. Because the moment we give up on each other is the moment we give in to the worst of the myths about women. If we overthrow our derbies because they don’t fulfill our ideals, we’re setting them up for failure. Expecting women to be perfect – to be everything and never fall short – is not a feminist act.
-Villainelle

I stood in the doorway of the kitchen. Knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet and skates, I was all geared up for a happy roll in the soft Florida winter sun.

“You look ridiculous,” my mother-in-law Elizabeth said, smirking. She was all perfume and haughtiness. “I can’t believe you’re going out in public like that. Let me get my camera.”

She followed me onto the sidewalk. I flashed a peace sign to her that I mentally removed my pointer finger from.

The people who expect us to be perfect are assholes. I wish someone had said that to me earlier in my life. I wouldn’t, of course, have believed it, because until recently, I thought that if someone expected you to be perfect it meant they believed in you. I also thought that there might be some possibility of being perfect; the perfect wife, student, bohemian, derby girl. I could have the tattoos and the degrees. I could have the perfect relationship. I thought I could have my pretty pretty dresses and my feminism. But I was wrong.

Before roller derby, I was scared to fall. People who are in control of their lives, who are creating their ideal selves, I thought, don’t fall. But, in derby, everyone gets knocked down. The only thing that people will remember about you hitting the ground is how long you stayed on it.

Letting go, being wrong, and falling down all seem like fairly passive modes of revelation. But in derby, nothing is just passive. Every yielding must be followed by an instantaneous exertion of force. Playing roller derby almost always results in revelation for the women that play it. They learn that they are weak, that they are strong, and more importantly, that they are both things at the same time. They learn that the only way to recover from a fall is to get right back up. They learn that it’s okay not to be perfect or that they already are perfect or that perfect is a fucking scam thought up by the man to keep women with balls in check. They learn not to be kept in check.

Roller derby opens up a space for women to relate to each other as bodies, as women, as concrete or ephemeral things, as bitches or sex kittens or neither or both. The performance of the sport enacts a fluid exchange of energy between the players, energy that can be absorbed, reflected, or deflected. It is an energy which is specifically and explicitly feminine.

Roller Derby Ate My Marriage

I was sitting on the stairs to our attic eating a ham sandwich. I hadn’t been home in days, but Daniel didn’t know that because he had been in New Orleans visiting friends. Professors with tenure and lovely duplexes in gentrified neighborhoods. I had been doing derby. My hair was a maelstrom of sweat and cigarette ashes.

“I can’t watch you do this,” he said.

“Do what?”

“Eat that.” He formed his lips into a flat line across his face.

I stared at him through the thickness of my hangover. I hadn’t eaten pork for years, but I was hungry and tired and it was the only food in the house. It didn’t make sense for him to care about it, anyways. He loved ham and had never been attached to my shaky vegetarianism.

“Seriously?” I asked through a dry mouthful. “What the big deal? You eat swine all the time.”

“You don’t,” he said, “And it means something.”

It seemed like every little something meant everything to Daniel at that point, except the things that mattered. It was okay if I didn’t come home at night, but if I admitted that I had been smoking cigarettes, it was a problem. I could come home with visible hickeys, but I could not eat ham sandwiches.

My therapist, Arelys, listened to me freaking out.

“What THE FUCK? I’m fucking someone else and he’s pissed off because I smoked a fucking cigarette?”

“Tracey,” she said evenly, “When a person is having an affair, I think their partner always knows it on some level.”

“If he knows I’m having an affair, then why doesn’t he fucking call me on it instead of getting pissed off at me about all this piddling shit and being all passive aggressive about it?”

I was defensive. I felt guilty. I was having an affair and I was really mad at Daniel for not noticing or pretending not to notice. I was acting up, and Daniel, my husband and apparently, guardian, wasn’t setting new boundaries. So I was trampling all over the ones that were already there.

Sometime shortly before Mardi Gras, dressed in short derby shorts and a skimpy crop top, I had sat on his lap and daringly (within the context of our sexless relationship) tried to kiss him. With tongue. He playfully slid me off his lap, edging me away with his elbow in a reflexive move that we both knew well. I thought, “He doesn’t want me. He married his best friend.”

Well. Maybe so had I.

I had already been semi-crushing on my derby wife, the magnetically athletic and sincere Rock Bottom, for a few weeks, but something in that rejected kiss solidified the already growing wall between Daniel and I and broke down any last resistance I had in my pull towards her.

After a long Fat Tuesday in Mamou, Rock and I found ourselves slow-dancing to a neo jug band in Layfayette. I leaned into her broad shoulders and rested my face in her hair. She drunkenly, but flirtatiously pushed me away and said, “You cannot make out with me. You’re married.”

I was a gallon of bourbon into the night and cocky as all get-out. “Girl, I don’t need to make out with you. A bisexual belly dancer in the bathroom just gave me her phone number.”

We danced until the Saloon closed. Then we half-followed a drunk on a bicycle home until we were sure he wasn’t going to fall down in traffic. We pulled over a dozen times that night, in parking lots, fast food drive-thrus and on the side of highway, alternating between making out and her patient explanations that she wasn’t into me. Fine, I thought, I could accept that, but it was fucking Mardi Gras and my marriage was deteriorating and she was pretty and I was going to have a good time. And, as I accidentally confessed, I adored her.

When she dropped me off at my house, I said, “Kiss me goodnight.”

“No,” she responded. But she did it anyway.

It was pretty confusing on all counts. I didn’t actually feel any differently about Daniel, meaning I didn’t love him any less. But we hadn’t had sex since our wedding day, almost a year before. He was never much of an instigator and I had given up. Why had I given up?

I looked back at every dalliance I had had in the past decade carefully, real or imagined. All women, no men. Not women like Rock, though. It was all leggy model types and typical beauties. No broad shoulders. No baggy basketball shorts. I had always been attracted to the kind of girl I wanted to be, a sexy feminine ideal.

I jogged past my derby friend Tricky’s house early one morning. She was awake, padding around in sweatpants. We drank coffee on her porch.

“I think I might be gay,” I told her.

She snorted. “Wouldn’t that make everything easier?” she asked.

“No, actually, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. I love my husband.”

“Yeah,” she said, “but so then if you were gay then this whole thing with Rock could be like not his fault and not about your relationship. It could just be about some fundamental biological need you have to fulfill”

“That doesn’t sound easy,” I said.  It sounded terrifying. More than terrifying, it sounded wrong. It sounded like if I decided to be gay that I was somehow going to be able to get away with duplicitous and deceitful behavior and ride off into the sunset with my new sweet girlfriend on the back of a unicorn on a sunset of rainbows. Like Daniel wouldn’t be pissed or hurt or fucking devastated because I had some fundamental biological need.

I don’t think that many people think of me as a person who represses her needs and desires, but in reality, I was. I spent a lifetime seducing men because they wanted to fuck me. And when I did give in to my deviant desires to be with women, I found women to fuck that I also wanted to be. Harvard graduates with delicately long torsos and spunky geek rock girls with pierced nipples. With Daniel, I found a way to avoid the responsibility of seduction and a way to embody my ideals. All of them. I got to be hot and tatted up and also married and totally respectable.

I got to be everything, the ineffable perfect that the assholes say is possible. And it wasn’t enough. Because I realized that I didn’t want to move to New York or Boston and be the quirky undersexed wife of an academic. I didn’t want to live my life in an ivory tower in the suburbs of cool. I wanted to stay in Baton Rouge. I wanted to play roller derby, eat ham sandwiches, get a dog, and have a relationship with someone with whom I felt mutual. Someone with a vagina.

Even after these realizations, though, it still wasn’t clear to me that my marriage would end. Daniel and I, I thought, were bigger than these petty superficial structures. He didn’t want to have sex with me, so surely he would be happy to be relieved of the burden. We could live out our lives as best friends in some polyamorous utopia. We might not have been soul mates in the way I had planned, but surely we would never be separated.

“Are you going to divorce me?” I asked him a few days after our come-to-Jesus, relationship-shattering conversation.

He looked at me incredulously. “What would you do, Tracey?” he asked.

Not that. I wouldn’t have divorced him, not ever, no how. Not only was he my best friend, but he was also every ounce of proof that I ever had that life could be ideal. He was all things to me, and I wouldn’t have given him up for every blonde co-ed on campus. I didn’t realize that I already had.

Because Daniel didn’t want to be the husband of a lesbian. He didn’t want to have some idyllic alternative lifestyle set-up. And as he would point out to me later, those sorts of things are generally agreed on in advance.

“You signed on for a very traditional marriage, Tracey. That was what you wanted,” he told me when he called to tell me that divorce papers would be arriving. “And then you got bored. You can’t just decide on your own that we’re going to have some sort of open marriage. Those kinds of arrangements are made to suit the needs of both partners, not just one.”

He was right. It was another symptom in the wanting-to-have-it-all syndrome. I was the one who cheated and I was the one who lied. I was the one making out with derby girls in the living room while he slept. I was the asshole. But it wasn’t, as he supposed, because I was bored. I had been totally fucking confused. All the things I thought I wanted were chimeras and all the things I actually wanted were totally taboo.

In one of our last conversations, Daniel said to me, “I still believe in you.”

And I was so relieved. Because I thought that I would die if someone didn’t believe in me. And that someone had to be him, because he was just so ideal. And if someone who is pretty much perfect believes in you, then you can’t be that bad, right?

The answer to that question is complicated. On the one hand, it is yes, I am that bad. On the other hand it is a question mark, an interrogation of that belief. Daniel’s belief in me was based on his sincere faith that I could be ideal and believed in. And he wasn’t being an asshole. He just didn’t know that I was starting to think that this whole idea of possibly being perfect was, in some inherent way, assholic.

Because the very real truth is that I am not perfect. I am gay. I am not going to be able to fit into the mainstream. I am not going to get to have my girlfriend and my tattoos and my pretty pretty dresses and my young hot husband and my heterosexual privilege, too. I am going to have to make choices. And what I choose is blondes in basketball shorts and Baton Rouge.

What I choose is in the context of roller derby. I chose a version of myself that falls down, that sometimes does not commit. That gets hurt in very real ways and hurts other people. I choose an edition of myself that is not fucking perfect. It’s not even that cool. But it’s real and it’s resilient, and my team gives me a place and a way to make that choice every single day if I need to. But it’s a me that cannot be reduced to roller derby, even though it might be a product of exactly that thing.

My life now is not what others might consider ideal. I’m divorced. I have a girlfriend. I don’t have a picturesque Spanish Town porch swing and I don’t wear dresses anymore. I also don’t let men think that I might want to fuck them to flatter them or to make myself feel pretty. Frankly, the desires of men disgust me. I hate their tiny dicks and their giant egos. It’s the women in my life that make me feel beautiful despite being deeply flawed. I feel beautiful when I can knock over a woman half my age and twice my size. I feelbeautiful dancing all night with my team after skating hard all day. I feel beautiful being loved a woman who is willing to put me on the ground to teach me a lesson and who will cheer when I get back up.

Men? In my sport, they’re just the refs.

Their job is to count the points and stay the fuck out of my way.

This is from my master’s thesis “Beating the Red Stick: My Love Affair with the Red Stick Roller Derby”. It is part cultural history of the sport, part ethnography of the girls on my team, and part memoir. I’ll be spending the next year or so working it into a book. I am always interested in the ways that roller derby has changed women’s lives. If you have a story, well, first of all you should probably be writing on LDG, but secondly, I’d love to hear from you. tracdc@livederbygirls.com

Also, the article I quoted from at the beginning of the piece is Villainelle’s “This Feminist Darkness” on LDG. Read it.

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Mar 112011
 

I know I owe you guys another installment of Sex and Roller Derby.  And I promise it’s still on the horizon.  But remember how I warned you I might come up with something more important to say?  Last night, when Moxie posted about the oft-contentious topic of derby dress, I realized I DID in fact have something to say.  Because what I wear to derby matters to me.  It matters A LOT.  Because I’ve been worrying about my clothes for way too long already.

I had my first conflict over clothing when I was about 10 years old.

I'm the one in pink. I am 6 here. I am already developing hips and thighs.

I’m one of those kids who developed really early – earlier than is strictly reasonable.  I was full height by age 9 or 10, already sporting breasts and hips and an ass that, for an elementary schooler, could only be referred to as “epic.”  Whenever I mention this aspect of my childhood in mixed company, my male friends say, “That must’ve been awesome!”  Girls know better, though.  When I mention being the first kid on the playground with a C-cup, girls cringe silently or offer commiserating stories of their own.  Because girls know that being sexualized early is rife with complications.

All of a sudden, my uniform shorts looked a lot different than everyone else’s.  The baggy fabric was hugging me so tightly that preventing panty-line became a daily challenge.  My new bra (like actual bra; no training for these tits) was absurdly visible through the sheer fabric of our Peter-Pan-collar innocent-schoolgirl shirts.  Boys popped my straps on the playground.  They asked me if I’d be willing to show them my tits.  Up until that point, I don’t think I’d ever even heard the word “tits,” much less some of the other super-creatively-gross euphemisms they’d come up with.  I had no idea what they were so interested in.  As far as I could tell, I wasn’t any different than I’d been the year before.  I was the same mousy, quiet girl I’d always been.  Now, all of a sudden, the other kids were paying attention to me.  But the attention didn’t feel good.  It felt strange and awkward, unfounded somehow in anything I could comprehend.

I’m not saying I didn’t know what sex was; my dad is a scientist, and as such he always made sure I had a scientific explanation of the world around me.  But understanding the mechanics of sex does nothing to help you analyze the skeezy feeling you get when the class bully unhooks your bra during math, or tries to bounce a penny off your ass whenever you bend over.  Those feelings have nothing to do with making babies, nor with the “mutual respect and affection” that you’ve been taught are supposed to accompany human sexuality.  (Yeah, I know.  ”Mutual respect and affection” is kind of high-faluting language to use on a kid.  But you’ve never met my dad.)

My mother and I began to have near-constant conflicts about my clothes.  While school days were taken up with required uniforms, my weekends had always been a long string of shorts and tank tops.  Now, suddenly, I found my mother trying to convince me to “layer.”  She took me to Dillards in search of jeans to replace my well-loved outdoor shorts.  Whenever I tried to ask her why I couldn’t just wear my old clothes, she would hem and haw, telling me only that “those clothes just don’t look right on you anymore.”  When I got a little older and babydoll dresses with spaghetti straps got popular, I had to continually insist that wearing a t-shirt underneath the dress kind of hurt the look.  The same held true for wearing biking shorts underneath a skirt.  My mother didn’t breathe again until I got into grunge and started wearing figure-masking flannel shirts and overalls.

It took me years to understand why clothes that looked so cute and fun on my friends somehow looked slutty on me.  Things started to even out a little as I got older and my peers began catching up to me.  My body didn’t stand out quite as much outside an elementary school classroom.  But the weird feeling that there was something wrong or immoral about my shape never quite left me.  My breasts and hips were intruders that made my life confusing and complicated, that asked people to read my body separately from my personality.  They had their own grammar, sent their own private message to the world.  And I hated them.

By the time I hit my senior year of high school, I was a full-blown anorexic.  I had dropped from around 130 lbs (about what I weigh now, for those who know me) to 100.  My freshman year of college the numbers climbed lower, first to the lower 90s and then, after a bout with stomach flu, the lower 80s.  I bottomed out at around 82 lbs before I finally got some help and started the slow crawl back to normal.  And although I can’t guarantee a causal relationship, I can’t help but think that my early experience with T&A helped push me over the edge.  If I could just lose a little more weight, just a few more pounds, maybe my hips would disappear.  Maybe my breasts would dissolve and never return.  Maybe I could live a life where the clothes I draped myself in didn’t matter so much.  Maybe I wouldn’t look like a slut.

Me, parodying "sexy", at the 2010 Running of the Rollerbulls in New Orleans

I had to begin dealing with my body dysmorphia in order to get healthy again.  I had to learn that food is good and starvation is bad, that my body is my friend, yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda.  But it wasn’t until I joined derby that I really became friends with my body again.  I learned that giant asses are tools of power, that tits can be used in strategic positional blocking, and that thunder thighs help me get low and gain stability.  So when I dress for practice, I wear outfits that highlight my most valuable assets.  As Moxie mentioned in her post yesterday, derbies have long been proud of their hot pants and fishnets and low-cut tops.  But they’ve also been criticized for them, taken to task for not dressing like “serious athletes.”  So when I don my hot pants, I’m sending an important message to the world.  I’m saying “fuck you” to all the people who made me feel ashamed, who tried to teach me that asses and tits and hips were nothing but sex tools.  I’m reminding myself and my audience that women’s bodies – no matter their shape – are powerful.  I am proud, not ashamed.

So if the world wants to keep staring at our hot pants and telling us we’re nothing but sex kittens, that’s their own damn fault.  I know better.  I know that my body – while sexy – can do a lot of other things besides fuck.  And until the world learns that women have a right to display their bodies however they choose, without judgment, I’m going to keep skating – hot pants and all.

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