Unlike 2010, my schedule has not allowed me to attend many roller derby bouts this season, so I have not had the opportunity to write about the sport as often as I used to for the Best Damn Sports Show Period. Still, there remains one often-asked-about topic that I have yet to address in any of my previous blogs. Upon hearing that I had become a fan of roller derby, my friends and co-workers, mostly men, asked the same question, "What do derby girls look like?" When I arranged an interview with the Angel City Derby Girls' Fighty Almighty on the Best Damn Podcast (episode 70), the hosts' banter during the introduction and wrap-up went straight to skaters' looks. My friends' preoccupation with the appearance of the competitors led me to avoid that topic altogether in my blogs. Don't get me wrong, I certainly have a few derby girl crushes of my own, but my focus in writing about roller derby has always been on the sport and the action. Not today.
So what do derby girls look like? Well, that's a fairly easy question to answer. They're all really muscular. Except for the ones that aren't. They're all thin. Or not. They're all short. Or tall. Or average. They're all white. Or black. Or Asian. Or Hispanic. They all have tattoos. Except for the ones that don't. They all have brightly colored hair. But not the blondes. Or the brunettes. Or redheads. Some skaters look tough, like they could beat the crap out of you, while others look like pin-up models (who most likely could also beat the crap out of you). Which is all to say that asking what derby girls look like is the same as asking what women look like worldwide. Their appearances vary from league to league, team to team, skater to skater. No single style or physical attribute applies to all derby girls, or even to most of them. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a "derby girl look."
Look at the people around you. How many of them walk with their heads down, bent at the shoulders by the weight of living, looking defeated by their very existence? That is the polar opposite of the "derby girl look." Derby girls stand tall. I'm not saying that they are tall; they stand tall. No matter their height, they tower over us non-skaters. They exude confidence at a level that most people can only aspire to. Even in a loss on the track, they never look defeated. I'm not sure if it's the intense physical activity, the competition, the comraderie, or all of the above that causes it, but the pride with which derby girls carry themselves is the only "look" that applies across the board, and it's beautiful to see.
Here comes the plug: Don't understand what I'm talking about? If you live in Los Angeles, you have two opportunities to see for yourself in the next two weeks. On October 16 at 5:30 p.m., the Angel City Derby Girls present Night of the Rolling Dead at 5142 Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood. On October 23 at 6 p.m., the L.A. Derby Dolls feature The Swarm vs. The Tough Cookies at The Doll Factory, 1920 Temple Street, Los Angeles. With any luck, I'll be seeing you there.