Why I Don’t Want Your Compliment


I look different than I used to. People comment on it. It’s weird.

People I barely know say I’ve been “slimming down” and ask if I’ve been working out. Um. I teach yoga for a living and skate 3-6 hours a week (way less than many of my league mates). I’ve had a general increase in activity in the past few months because business is good and derby is great, but I don’t feel inclined to explain this to people. The subtext of their intended compliment is, “Although we’re practically strangers, I’ve noticed some changes in your body because I consider it my job and/or right to critique the bodies of others, and I want you to know that I approve/disapprove/have concerns.” In other words, it’s presumptuous as fuck.

I try not to give weight-based compliments because human beings are beautiful by definition and attaching a person’s worth to their weight is shitty. But I will say stuff like, “Wow, you look amazing!” Or I might even say, “You look like you’ve been taking good care of yourself,” which I hear some people take to mean “you look fat,” but I actually mean it literally. I try to praise any positive changes in a person, and maybe it’s equally presumptuous of me. But everyone likes getting compliments, so if someone seems like they’re happy, less stressed out, or really following their passion in life — or if they’re just really well dressed and rocking it, I like to tell them.

But when it comes to weight/body-related commentary, I prefer to keep my mouth shut and think other people should, too. For one thing, asking about a person’s weight is both rude and pointless. 1: It’s none of your business. 2: The number means mind-blowingly little for most people. 3: If the person’s weight is a threat to their health and you’re not their doctor, they probably don’t need or want your advice.

I get it, though. Humans like to give and receive compliments. It’s an evolved social bonding system, and our egos love it. But I could really do without comments on my body from pretty much anyone ever. Because really, I’m not doing this for you.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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All Dolled Up for Charm School

Added to my to-do list: Plan yoga practice for skating.
Added to my to-do list: Plan yoga practice for skating. (No, this isn’t me. One day, though …) 

I didn’t so much fall off the bandwagon. It’s more like the Ghost of Christmas Present kicked me off in a whirlwind of junk food, booze, and family gatherings. So … I didn’t do yoga at all while in Louisiana for Christmas, nor have I skated since coming home. My muscles have been tight, my energy has been low, and I was just starting to feel a bit of regret about it all earlier this week. The good news is, you can always rededicate yourself to your practice. Atha yoganushasanam, right? Now we begin. There’s a reason this is tattooed on my forearm. I need the reminder frequently.

My motivation this week has been to prepare for Charm School, a Saturday-morning clinic for aspiring derby girls put on by the Charm City Rollergirls. This will be my first chance to interact with the Baltimore derby crowd (aside from watching them bout), so I’m completely stoked, but also a little nervous. I fall slightly less often than I used to and can theoretically skate backwards, but I still basically suck. On the bright side, I got most of my gear for Christmas from my amazing husband, which means I’m now equipped to do all the falling necessary to actually get good at derby.

I wish I’d done more skating this week, but it’s cold as the bejeezus outside and frankly, I don’t wanna/you can’t make me. Instead, I’ve been using my yoga practice to help build strength and endurance. Thursday morning, for example, I did several rounds of Sun Salutation (with jump-backs) to warm up, then worked on pigeon pose and eagle (two of my favorite standards). After that, I touched on my project poses: handstand, pinchamayurasana, bakasana, and bhujapidasana. I’m finally able to kick up into handstand and hold it for several seconds without using the wall, and my bakasana (crow pose) has gotten a lot stronger. I can get into pincha from headstand if I use the wall, and I can do the first step of bhujapidasana. My asana goal for 2014 is to master this set of poses, and I feel like I’m already making good progress.

What do these poses have to do with derby, though? While Sun Salutation may not be what you think of when you want to build up your endurance, it really is a challenge once you start building up to the 108. Plus, skating can be intense on the hips and low back, so I like to use various yoga poses to work out the kinks from practice as well as that unique post-travel, cold weather stiffness. Finally, all those inversions and arm balances may not seem related to skating, but they certainly help build core strength, focus, and overall confidence. I feel pretty good about the progress I’m making lately, and while I don’t expect to be the best skater at Charm School, I feel ready to learn a lot and challenge myself.


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I Wanna Be a Derby Girl

Suburbia Roller Derby Suburban Brawl at ECE - 142

I am beginning a project. A very ill-advised project. I want to play roller derby.

It just looks so damn fun. The bouts I’ve watched remind me of playing on the basketball team as a kid. I never really went in for “school spirit,” but being on a team and accomplishing something with a group of friends is tons of fun to me. Plus, I feel like I’m ready for a new challenge and adventure in my life, and roller derby looks great on both counts.

It’s been a slightly rocky start. My friend Jenn and I have started skating together at a local rink, and this week, we went for a skating lesson — $5 covers the skate rental, a one-hour lesson, and the two-hour open session that follows, so we felt like we were getting a pretty great deal. Granted, we were the only adults there who weren’t accompanying children, and I was probably the worst skater in the bunch.  Well, there was this one guy who looked about as comfortable in roller skates as a cat with scotch tape on his feet. I feel guilty saying this, but that guy made me feel tons better about myself until this morning when it occurred to me that the rink might have been paying him to look bad. The only down side of the skating lesson was that the instructor was a creepy old guy who kept making awkward comments about my body while giving me instructions. I’m now looking for other places to learn skating so I don’t have to be inappropriately touched by grandpa.

I have fallen twice now — once when a girl fell in front of me, and I didn’t have time to move around her, and once when I lost my balance for no particular reason and got a nasty bruise. Falling is a little embarrassing, but I figure I better get used to it if I’m going to try derby. In fact, I even like that in derby, falling is part of the sport and not something to be embarrassed about. Ok, so the goal is to fall a lot less, but I’ll try not to worry too much when I do. Jenn, on the other hand, has not fallen at all. She talks a big game about being oh-so-clumsy, but I think she’s secretly a rockstar at everything and just doesn’t like to brag.

In addition to practice, I’ve been assembling and arsenal of information about derby rules, skating skills, and the people involved in the sport. This has been my go-to internet reading for the week.

  • Roller Derby 101 on the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association web site. In fact, I intend to spend quite a bit of time on this site in the future.
  • Even the “about” page for the Charm City Roller Girls (my nearest league) is awesome. I’ve been to a couple of bouts, and everyone seems really cool and nice. Definitely looking forward to watching more games so I can learn!
  • Reddit/r/rollerderby: With the tag line “not just for fans of Whip It,” I’m afraid I need to do some serious studying before I try to talk to anyone. These girls know their stuff, and they seems like a dedicated bunch.
  • The WFTDA’s minimum skills requirements list is now my study material.
  • This Youtube series has a bunch of information on derby skating skills, which I will eventually need to learn.
  • I also started following a bunch of roller derby chicks on Tumblr because they post cool pictures and good information. Plus, they inspire me. For example…

Diary of a Derby Bunny
Inconsequential Musings (Calamity Jane!)
Derby Deets — Funny derby related gifs. Ok, so they’re not particularly relevant to training, but they make me feel like one of the cool kids.
Shit Derby Girls Say

So, now all I’m missing is some skates, pads, helmet, and … oh right, more practice!

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