I originally started writing this post back in February, when I was freaking out because my weight had climbed. I was hoping to get useful feedback from other female athletes, but also reluctant to talk about a topic that can be emotionally triggering for some readers. (But here it is!)
I’d never been really been athletic or active before derby. So of course I thought I might drop a couple of pounds and tone up with this new venture. Which is exactly what happened… at first. And that was all fine and good, until the scale started to creep up, right up to a number that I had only seen once or twice before, and didn’t care to see again. PANIC MODE!
In my family, the insecurity has always been our thighs. (Even though there is actually nothing wrong with them. We’re freaking Cuban, that’s all!) As a kid and teen, I was super self-conscious, especially about my thighs. (Which I didn’t realize until years later, were SO FINE!) Societal “norms” have changed a lot since my childhood, and gotten a lot more multi-culturally friendly, which has helped so much. But when the scale started showing me higher numbers, and all my pants started fitting tight in the thighs, all I could think about was how much food I was eating, and how I needed to make it stop. However, just when I decided I needed to “zip it” until further notice, someone from my team posted this article. (Just a few hours later, as a matter of fact!)
Basically the article says: if you don’t eat enough for your sport, you’re making it very likely that you’ll get injured, because the metabolism will take what it needs, even if it’s from your healthy new bones and muscles. WHAT?! That got my attention.
So then I went through this whole period of trying to reprogram my brain. Part of this was doing a serious assessment with a wall mirror placed at an angle on the floor so that I could see my whole body. I spent about 20 minutes one night in my underwear looking over my entire physique prodding, flexing, and jiggling while Thomas giggled nearby.
I learned several things. 1. My butt and thighs are much firmer now! 2. There are muscles and definition that never before existed! 3. My calves look awesome! 😀 At the same time I also coined the phrase, “the proof is in the laps!”, because I had also recently gotten a lot faster on the track. That’s when I started to make my peace with it.
Soon after, a couple of other relevent articles came out, including this one, written by a Rat City Rollergirls, Derby Liberation Front skater, who is one of our coaches, and also a physical therapist! It was nice to read about her very similar struggles as I was going through the same thing. When I talked to another girl that I skate with about it, she confessed she had ripped a pair of her work pants about the same time that I was outgrowing my scrub pants.
It seems to be a thing that happens to a lot of girls. Which is why I thought it was worth mentioning.
So what did I do? Well, I finally had to order some new underwear and scrub pants. I mostly just wear scrubs or derby clothes these days, but in the event that I do something social (like go watch another team’s game), I’ve been wearing skirts and dresses because trying to get my jeans on is NO FUN. But eventually I’ll have to try to find some jeans that fit too. (Which has already been challenging with the skinny jeans not being thigh/butt friendly, even before derby!)
The funny thing is I’m TOTALLY happy now with my new body. I love that I’m getting firmer, faster, and stronger! I think watching the Olympics also helped tremendously. Seeing all those strong, muscled legs really helped me to look at my body in a more athletic way, instead of just as an ornament. I remember in high school thinking to myself that I would never do a sport like soccer because I didn’t want to bulk up my legs! So ironic now. But really, I’m pretty proud of me for getting around my deeply embedded, self-loathing head trip!
Here’s another blog post that I thought was great, talking about how roller derby improves body image: here!
Most of all I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be involved in a sport that embraces all body types, and all kinds of people. It’s done a lot for me in ways that I really didn’t anticipate, and I know it does that for so many people out there too.
Ty / Vampira Knightley / Vamp