This series of photographs are dedicated to showing real derby skater bodies without pretense and without apology. This set is a pickup game between Team Black and Team Rainbow. The sweat is real. The hits are real. The points are real.
This set features skaters from our wonderful hosts Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby. Participating leagues include A-Town Roller Derby, Arch Rival Roller Derby, Circle City Derby Girls, Demolition City Roller Derby, DuPage Derby Dames, Illiana Derby Dames, Lafayette Brawlin Dolls, and Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. Additional photos can be found on Cory’s Flickr album. Get future updates on Facebook by following The Rollergirl Project.
[These skaters] are beautiful at any shape or size.
- B-Squared, A-Town Roller Roller Derby, new skater
I started to zero in on my own flaws. But I noticed that other people may be looking at the same thing on their bodies and thinking the same thing. Then I noticed despite my flaws that everyone looked incredible and strong from the thin body types to the heavier ones we all have parts which are amazing and we are all playing an incredibly difficult sport. I was also happy to see my hearing aids in the photos because deaf and hard of hearing athletes can be just as competitive as hearing athletes.
- Diamond Dog, Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby, new skater
My body has changed so drastically over the last four years and while the rest of the world sees it and my rational mind knows it (when you can no longer purchase a size 26 and 14's are the new you), I thought this may solidify more of a heart change.
- Knock'r Down, Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby, 9 year veteran
We've all been told that we need to draw attention away from problem areas, that we're too big or too small or the wrong shape or not "toned" enough or too muscular. But in that moment on the track, we're not thinking about whether or not we look good. We're using our bodies to get stuff done. We're working together. We have points to score. We have walls to break through. We need to get lower, jump higher, hit harder, get across the track faster. And I hope you can see that we're having a great time.
Rocket Docket, Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby, 3 year veteran
I didn't know how I would react when I saw the photos. I've always been extremely critical of my body and used to do destructive things to myself in order to look a certain way. I would avoid being in pictures and, when I did appear, I would stare at the photo and all of my glaring imperfections with self-hatred. I'm slowly recovering from that and roller derby has been so important in my journey. Derby taught me that exercise is not a punishment and its goal is not to change my body. Instead, I exercise with my teammates and I do it to be a better athlete. I look in the mirror and see muscles, bruises, and some jiggle. But that doesn't matter. So when I saw the photos, I was shocked that I didn't feel any shame. I didn't stare at my stomach or pore over my body. I see myself in the photos, no different from how I look at practice, at home, or at work. And that makes me so happy, and so grateful.
ShenAnakin Skywalker, Illiana Derby Dames, 3 year veteran
I have always been small and underweight. The way our society works right now so many people associate "skinny" with being healthy. I used to think that way too. I am still very small but when I look in the mirror and see the muscle definition that didn't used to be there I am reminded of every single work out and every single practice I pushed myself through in order to make myself into a better skater. My body can do things it never used to be able to do. Things I never expected it to do. It has been amazing to learn what I am capable of. Now I know, just like being overweight doesn't automatically make you unhealthy or lazy, being skinny doesn't automatically make you the picture of health either.
Banjo Brawler, Circle City Rollergirls, 5 year veteran
When I look down at my body or see myself in the mirror, I see something totally different than when I see myself in these photos. It's mostly the physical shape of my body - I never see myself from afar like everyone else does. I never see my own body entirely, at once, and in motion like others do. It's surreal in a way to see these photos and think that I almost look like a different person than I see when I view myself from within my own body.
- CupQuake, Arch Rival Roller Derby, 7 year veteran