Body image has been pertinent in the media for a very long time. There are dips and swells for its popularity in the media but, overall, it’s inescapable. It’s been said in many ways by many people – the media is saturated with images of social perfection. In sport body image tends to focus on being slim and toned; speed, agility and strength has simply become a by-product of the aesthetic. And roller derby comes with it’s own endless stereotypes of body image – but we’re not going there today.
I joined Nottingham Roller Derby about a year and a half ago and initially I was daunted by the prospect of a contact sport, not least because I’d never done anything like this before. I felt self conscious at first, I’m not particularly toned or fit and knew I’d need to be, no, wanted to be both.
As with many people I felt, and still do, that in order to be socially accepted by my peers I should be slimmer. Being part of the league has given me focus to be strong, stable on my feet and most of all to be healthy. Training with NRGB every week has been cathartic, for my body as well as mind. Being surrounded by funny, positive, kind hearted and like minded people has made me realise that no-one cares what I look like. What does it matter if I’m packing a few extra pounds if I can block effectively? Food is fuel and I need to feed myself to be an effective member of the team. Although there are still times when I moan about how I look, I’m learning to embrace my body and accept my quirks!
Tormaydo also lends some thoughts on the matter. She says; “In the past I must admit, I had a terrible attitude towards my health and well-being. And a very unhealthy relationship with food and an obsession with the numbers on my scales. I was well on the road to recovery, but still suffered slip ups as everyone does; along with the mental minefield it all creates. Since joining NRG I have found the support of the most amazing group of people, who have helped me focus on what is most important. Being physically and mentally healthy. I know it’s pretty obvious but it can be hard to keep yourself on track alone. Roller derby can be so physically demanding it’s amazing what a difference a team of brilliant like minded people beside you can do; you feel you can achieve anything. We all fall to the floor sometimes but it’s the picking yourself back up that’s the real challenge and with NRG there is always a hand there waiting to help you back up when you do. A hand to guide you, a hand to give you strength. Everything you need when you feel you have nothing left to give, they fuel you. They inspire. They make you want to be the best you can be. Something I’ll be eternally grateful for.”
Being surrounded by positive people is everything to me, I’ve always felt like a proverbial round peg but training and skating with my roller team has made me feel like I’m not the only round peg and I’m certainly not the oddest! In the end this quote by Taylor Swift (because NRG seem to have a weird obsession with her) says it all really;
“I definitely have body issues but everybody does. When you come to the realisation that everyone does- even the people I consider flawless- then you can start to live with the way you are.”
Walker Texas Danger and Tormaydo