January 10, 2013

There is Glitter on my Soapbox

There aren't a lot of things that really get under my skin. Well today, I am going to get out my soapbox and talk about something that I feel really passionate about. Yes, you guessed it, roller derby. More specifically, I am going to talk about roller derby style. Fashion. Booty shorts. Fish-net stockings. Glitter. Most importantly, I am going to talk about the way those things make me feel.

Pfft! Athleticism at its finest.
True story. 
When I put on a rockin' pair of tights, some adorable short shorts, and sprinkle glitter on everything that doesn't jump out the way, I feel good. I feel like an awesome disco ball of quad-tastic power. I am not ashamed of this feeling and I am not ashamed of my body in this outfit. I don't care if I look less "legit" or that anyone could ever dream that it is less athletic than the bikinis worn by Olympic volleyball players. I don't wear those things to gain approval.

Some of you may be wondering what brought this up, so let me give you a little bit of background. In December, we took a break from derby. No practices, no scrimmages  no committee meetings, no endurance, none of it. But we did get together for a few optional social-ish events and one of them was watching a popular new roller derby documentary. In this documentary, lots of things were discussed including comparisons in modern roller derby to other sports and why breaking into the mainstream will be hard. They discussed what was holding us back from Olympic greatness was the overall seriousness of the sport. Our names are silly, both team names and individual names, the history is chaotic and theatrical, and then there is way we dress... Wait a minute. Hold the phone. Did you just say the way we dress? I stewed on this for weeks.

The more I thought about it, the more offended I became that the way I dress is actually impacting perceptions of athletic skill or ability. I like to look like a woman when I skate. I like to feel confident in what I am wearing but I do understand that the clothes I choose for roller derby events are not commonly worn by the general public. That is OK with me. Give me one hour and my teammates and I will change the way you think of female athletes. This thing I do, it isn't a joke. I know that some people come to derby because they want to watch chicks in short shorts hit each other, but that isn't why I am there. I am there to be an athlete. To better myself. To be a member of something. I LIKE knocking my friends down wearing bedazzled hot pants. That is something that I get to choose for myself.

This guy told taught us how to know better
than judging based on appearances.
Can't we all agree to be done with those days?
That is the wonderful thing about the era that I live in. This is not 1950 when a woman who doesn't conform to social norms was an outright pariah. I don't have a narrow and limited path to follow. I get to choose. This is a generation that has been taught to know better. This is a time that asks people to be more tolerant. This is the age of the open minded. My booty shorts challenge viewpoints. I wear them proudly. I laugh at "mainstream" proudly because someday, my daughters won't fight this fight. They will have others, surely, but not this one. So shame on you Mr. Documentary Commentator for telling me that I will never be "legit" because of clothing. You are wrong but I am not going to hold it against you. I will show you at my next bout that I play roller derby, I am a woman, and I am an athlete. None of those things will cancel one another out.

Derby love,
Mollytov Maguire


  1. This is an amazing post, Molly!!! I have to admit that sometimes I "apologize" for the outfits when I'm explaining derby to someone who's never watched it: "Well, yes, we wear hot pants, but the sport is real!"

    But you're right: there shouldn't be a "but" in there at all. I should be saying "We wear hot pants AND we're athletes!"

    Thanks so much for putting it so well and reminding me of the importance of not playing to stereotypes. :D

    (Also, I love your blog post title, and I miss your face.)

  2. Thanks Dixie! I miss your face too!!

    I don't usually get all "up in arms" about stuff, but I just felt like I deserve better than to be judged in that way. I am over it. I am going to be 30 in mere weeks and I just DEMAND more out of the next 10 years than I got in the last. I think it's pretty awesome that I get to be older and wiser!