Monday, November 10, 2008

Fat Talk

My friend Lady Pilot had an amazing video on her blog today that has inspired me to post about fat talk as well.

Fat talk is perhaps the number one reason I think rugby is good for women, because when rugby players talk about there being a place for every body, they aren't just saying that. Rugby demands differently sized bodies, and many times really, really big ones. (Though we also need tiny little scrumhalves or wings to squirt through holes and score)

I think because of this need for such varied bodies, the sport makes all of us feel better about ourselves. I have great, big thighs. It's not really debatable. But I need them; they are functional. They serve a purpose. I'm encouraged to squat giant silver sandbags in order to make them firmer and stronger. As a front-row forward, I need to be sturdy or our team is going to have a tough time being successful. It's great!

I draw a lot of inspiration from Leslie Heywood, who wrote the amazing memoir Pretty Good for a Girl. In it, she talks about all the women around her trying desperately to shrink, to disappear, to fade into nonexistence. This habit transcends just weight and body size, but applies to the way many women try to not be in the room. Not only seen but not heard, but not even really seen and, thus, not noticed or judged.

As rugby players, we constantly attempt to make ourselves larger, more intimidating, an imposing threat to the other side. These are practices that we carry with us off the field and into life, where we don't really engage in much fat talk and speak about getting in shape rather than going on diets.

After watching that video clip, I feel once again grateful that I found this sport. Each time I pause to think about it, rugby seems more and more like a passport into a space where things are less challenging for women. If not a passport, a gateway at least.


Em said...

Ironically, the tri-delts at my undergrad were the least fat-accepting of all the sororities.

PeaceLoveMath said...

Awesome video. I am going to incorporate it.

a French Press? Or something else? My french press wouldn't really crush any leave, but I think you might be talking about something else. But I am having a hard time verbalizing because I am drunken on Herby's most wonderful margaritas after happy hour with Nawakwa people.

The end.

Battered Barbie said...

The fat talk free week is a good start...

But it's really not what I talk about to other women, or what they say to me.

It's about what I'm saying in my head when I look in the mirror.

Is it sad that I've feared losing weight because along with it, I might lose my identity as a front row? Yes :)

Keeper of the Ice Packs said...

Thanks for a most enlightening post. When my two daughters announced Rugby was their chosen sport, I was flabbergasted. Ruck? Hooker? Pitch? Try? It was a foreign language I was sure I could never learn. I threw up watching my first game. Why not ballet? How come they proudly showed off their bruises like badges of honor? Where had I gone wrong as a mother? How do I tell the family?
Then, I met the team. Girls whose bodies were a variety every size and shape but whose hearts were all the same... large and round. Girls who never commented on pant size or waist diameter in a negative way, (unless picking on the scrum halfs) girls who were happy with who and what they were. Confident, strong, healthy girls.
Years have passed, many teams have come and gone since that first game, but the players are all the same. I'm glad my girls are not crumb eating, calorie counting ballerinas. Instead they are healthy, happy, well adjusted (as well adjusted as a ruby player can be) beautiful women, and I'm proud to be the ruckers mother. 123 Main St is now a "no fat talk zone". Spread the word!

Nursedude said...

Great post, and a very, very clever video clip.

As a guy who is a nurse, 94% of the people in my career field are women. A times, I feel like the proverbial fly on the wall listening to their conversation. all that I can say is that there are a whole lot of women out there with some really messed up body images.

I have a 17 year old daughter who likes just fine, but is constantly on herself for having big thighs or being big-in spite of my assurances that she is at a healthy weight.

The thing that I notice every time that the Olympics role around, is which sports get the most prime time air-time? The skinny little gymnasts or figure skaters. The media is loath to show any athletic woman with a more normal looking body.