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What I’ve Been Up To

I thought I would share a snippet of what I’ve been up to from my instagram, besides spending a lot of time training for my first roller derby bout, dying my hair blonde and moving house yet again, of course!

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Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach / Norfolk Brawds Heartlands Bout / VW Whitenoise

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Sleek Ultra Mattes Pallete Brights / Victory Rolls / Hair for Norwich Body Art Festival

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Barry M Olive nail art / Barry M Kiwi nail art / Nautical nail art.

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You can be your own hero

Credit goes to MDP Images

I’m the one on the right! Credit goes to MDP Images

I know, the title is incredibly cheesy, but if you’d told me a year ago I’d skate a roller derby bout in front of a crowd I wouldn’t have believed you. I wrote this post a year and four months ago, and shortly after that started skating with the Norfolk Brawds. It’s taken hard work, stress, sweat, tears and a lot of encouragement, but I did it!

The bout I skated in was a mixed opener, where new skaters from around the country can get experience skating in front of a crowd. It was such a good experience and everyone was excited and enthusiastic, and we won! The bout was quite close until we had a few power jams in our favour towards the end.

Here are a few more photos, I think in future I need to get a cooler looking helmet and not wear blue lipstick and a blue gum shield!

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

Photo thanks to Sugar Shark

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Urban Decay Roller Girl Makeover

urban decay makeover

urban decay makeover

Thanks to the lovely Heather at Urban Decay Norwich, Gemma (Retro Chick) and the Norfolk Brawds I had the chance to take part in a roller girl makeover last Sunday. The makeover was inspired by our derby names, with Gem Warfare wearing khaki green eyeshadow and Slammin’ Siren having a blue sea theme.

After we had our makeovers done we skated around House of Fraser handing out leaflets and showing off our makeovers. I enjoyed skating a lot, although I was really tempted to try things that I probably shouldn’t when surrounded by shoppers and displays. Then we went home, I wish it hadn’t been a Sunday otherwise I would have definitely have gone out to show off my makeup.

The whole experience was so much fun, and something I would not have got to do normally if I hadn’t been part of the Norfolk Brawds.

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Credit goes to Gemma and Heather for the first and last photos respectively.

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Female Power and Roller Derby

Transformation from nice woman you'd want to let a house to hot pants wearing derby girl: complete.

Transformation from nice woman you’d want to let a house to derby girl: complete.

I’ve said from the beginning that roller derby celebrates and empowers women, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I managed to put my finger on exactly why I love derby. It’s not because it empowers women, but because it makes them powerful.

In this patriarchal society, where women’s bodies are property of men, where women are encouraged, if not forced, to make themselves thinner, less hairy and generally submissive under the guise of ‘beauty’, it’s hard for women to really feel like their bodies belong to themselves. This is where, for me, roller derby comes in. Roller derby teaches women a new way of inhabiting their bodies, of seeing it not as something which has to be moulded to a form dictated by someone else, but instead as something which you learn to trust and when you do, it frequently surprises you with its strength.

Roller derby is a sport, it’s about being better than you were last week, about being out of breath and about waking up the next day with aching muscles. But it’s not about comparing yourself to others, it’s about learning at your own speed and patiently teaching your body to do things you didn’t think it could do. The whole act of skating is, if you think about it, fairly ridiculous, as a coach once told me ‘you’ve strapped wheels to your feet, why would you do that dumbass?’. And as a result it makes you think differently about how you move. Yesterday I skated 27 laps of the track in 5 mins (ok, I’ll stop bragging now…) and I didn’t do it by pounding my feet on the ground as hard as I could, I did it by staying low, focussing on my technique and thinking of the ground as an extension of my feet rather than something I was afraid of. It taught me to reevaluate about my relationship with my surroundings and with myself.

When I got to derby practice I don’t get told what to eat, or how much you should weigh, I get told to think about my posture when I’m skating, or where my feet are placed in order to do this. For five plus hours a week my entire focus is on my body, the muscles aching to hold me up and my legs attempting to master new moves. I’m not trying to make myself smaller in order to sit next to someone on public transport, or worrying about whether my eyebrows are plucked sufficiently (hint: they’re not), I’m thinking about what my body can do, not what it can’t.

Derby gives you new muscles you didn’t think you had, I can probably kick a door down now just from the hours I’ve spent squatting. But it’s not the physical power I’ve gained from derby that makes me feel powerful, it’s the shift in the way I think about my body, and the relationship I have with it. I’ve regained something which I didn’t even realise I’d lost, and now I’ve got it back I’m stronger than ever.

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Introducing… Jenny Wreck

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If you hadn’t guessed by the photos, this blog is going to be about roller derby! So, three and a half months ago, I went to see the Norfolk Brawds play an open bout at the UEA Sportspark in Norwich, despite having a terrible hangover it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen, and then and there I said I was going to go to their ‘fresh meat’ training. I had told myself before that couldn’t do roller derby because I didn’t have a job, and wasn’t confident or fit, but I decided that I’d had enough of excuses, I was going to actually go and have a try.

So I did. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Since then I’ve got a job, made heaps of new friends (more about that later!) and got fitter in the process. Last week was sign offs, where we get tested on all the skills we’ve learnt in level one. I went along thinking I couldn’t do jumps, so wouldn’t pass level one, but was determined to have a good go all the same. Plus I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to get my skates on, (seriously, once you start you can’t stop!) I went and tried my hardest, but when it came to jumping over that 3 inch high stick, I tried, fell over and my toestop came off. I spent so long getting it back on (a small part of the plate had snapped off, but that was no big deal) that I missed out on my other two tries. I finished the rest of the sign offs, unsure of how well I’d done. Then, at the end of the session I was given another two tries at jumping it, the first time I fell over, but the second time I managed to jump and land without falling over! It was such a good feeling, in that moment I didn’t even care whether I’d passed level one, but it came to know the results and … “62, you’ve passed level 1”. I was buzzing for the rest of the week.

However, that’s not quite the best thing about derby, the best thing is the people! All my fellow fresh meat skaters have become like a little family, we’ve all struggled through learning t-stops and plough stops and many yells of ‘get lower!!!!’ together. But so much of roller derby also happens off the track, we’ve all volunteered to help out the Brawds in one way or another, spending our weekends supporting the team by being a Non Skating Official or representing the Brawds at events going on in Norwich. And, I have to say, I wouldn’t want to spend my time with any other people, all the fresh meat and bouting Brawds are so lovely and friendly! If you want more to read the wonderful Wild Honey has a dedicated derby blog Diary of a Roller Derby Rookie and one of my fresh meat family is the lovely Gemma of Retro Chick, so check them out! Plus you should definitely support the Brawds or local roller derby wherever you are.

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(Photo by Wild Honey)

jenny

P.S. Yes, I did put my kneepads and wrist guards on just to take photos in my garden, it felt silly, but not as silly as it would have been to explain if I had fallen over without them!