Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fat-Girl Nascar

There’s a new bartender in Baltimore who, according to his coworker and my friend, use to work at a big derby bar in Texas – it was one of the teams’ “home bars.” I’ve always found this phenomenon intriguing, because none of our teams in Baltimore have really ever laid claim to any one bar, and I think it would be rather fun to have a home-team stomping ground – a place where members of other teams aren’t welcome, a place 16 girls own.

In any event, this Texas-transplant bartender tells a friend of mine a “funny” story about how one night the bar was hosting an event for the derby team, and some of the men who were regulars at the bar hung a large sign from the ceiling that they had made. It took hours for people to notice what it said: “FAT-GIRL NASCAR.”

Immediately upon hearing this story, I tensed up. I didn’t know if I should (or wanted to) scream or even dignify that anecdote with a reply. I felt like I was back in grade school – just having been publicly rejected or made fun of by the popular kids. I was back in 1985 being called “fat” by someone who I thought was my friend. It stung.

In the hour following my hearing this story, thoughts and come-backs swirled around in my head, but no matter what came to me, I still didn’t feel I had the best (or even a good) reply to why this story was just so wrong.

For one, roller derby is nothing like Nascar, except for the going fast and turning left bit. Derby is a team sport where only one person on each team is racing; Nascar is an individual sport (as much as I disagree with calling it a sport at all) where each individual is racing. This is all accurate, but it wasn’t doing much to satisfy my idea of what a good retort should be.

Secondly, no where near all roller girls are fat. We fat ones are certainly in the minority here. Maybe they were just saying it to be assholes, or maybe everything is bigger in Texas.

My third thought involved going on the defensive for being compared to a group of rednecks. “We’re not fucking rednecks,” I thought. Then I realized I was just as bad as the men at the bar for using the term “redneck” – I certainly wasn’t thinking anything good by it when arguing to myself that we were nothing like them. Shame on me. I was doing the same thing to rednecks and Nascar lovers that the men at the bar were doing to derby girls.

See, the gentlemen at the bar who hung the sign didn’t seem to be questioning the “sport” aspect of derby – they were attacking each individual woman who plays derby, and the attacks were a low blow. “You’re fat.”

I remember about 8 years ago I was sitting at a bar with a few friends, when this guy was talking to my female friend and I. I attempted to add something to the conversation, not even interested in the guy, and he stifled me by saying, “You’re fat.” I went on the deliver what I thought was the best come-back at that time: “Thank you, Captain Obvious! I may be fat, but you’re ugly. I can do something about my problem, but you’ll never be able to fix yours.” Really, it was the bitterness coming out and likely nowhere close to the “best” reply.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think there is a perfect reply to being told roller derby is fat-girl Nascar. On one hand, there are always going to be haters – people who are jealous of the attention other people get, so they pick apart the other people’s flaws and act like children. Really, if “fat” is the worst you can come up with, then I think that speaks a lot for roller girls everywhere.

Some of us may be fat, but we’re not assholes, elitists, bigots, racists, or idiots. True, some of us are big girls. That’s actually pretty cool, especially if everything is bigger in Texas, where the roller derby resurgence that has swept THE WORLD began less than 8 years ago. Seriously, fat girls creating an empire, fat girls resurrecting and honing a sport, fat girls enabling each woman they come into contact with to become a stronger and better person? Yeah, that’s pretty fucking cool.

Roller derby: making the world a better place for fat girls since 1922.

Fat girls: making the world a better place through roller derby since 2000.


SKabs said...

sometimes people can be SO MEAN. it really burns me up.

i, too, have a hard time not comparing my performance to that of others, whether it's derby or running or whatever. and for the past year i've been trying really hard not to be so mad at my body for constantly getting sick. not only does it hold me back physically, but it just makes life much less enjoyable. blerg.


chunk_vs_squeet said...

gawd i love you! when you start making the CFRB t-shirts( hint, hint) can these perfectly coined phrases fo on the back of them!

"Roller derby: making the world a better place for fat girls since 1922."

"Fat girls: making the world a better place through roller derby since 2000."