I spent a day with a beautiful brown and gold scarf, a scarf that deserved to be the showpiece of my clothes for the day. I chose a long, black dress and tied the scarf around my waist trailing down my right hip. The scarf ended its journey with me by attending practice for the Junior Gems, an all-girls flat track roller derby team. My reflection focuses on my connection to this unusual community of women: roller derby moms and our derby daughters.

Frequently, when I mention my daughters and I skate, or have skated, people ask if it is still like the roller derby they remember from the 1970s when it was staged and violent. The answer is an emphatic, “No!”  Roller derby today is mostly a women’s sport in which we challenge social norms about body image, women’s sexuality, and women’s vulnerability. While it is a full contact sport, we spend as many as eight hours a week on the rink training so that every member of the team knows how to use her body effectively and in coordination with her teammates.  We celebrate that women on the team come from a variety of social backgrounds, sexual identities, and body types.  But, most of all, I celebrate our community because it is a place to heal and to find strength for women who are recovering from physical and emotional injuries. I hope that others who wore the scarf and saw the scarf will benefit from echoes of that strength.

Editor’s note: Eight scarves are connecting 87 University of Dayton women. Each woman will spend a day with the scarf before meeting  another woman and sharing the scarf with her. After this exchange, each woman will reflect on her experience during her time with the scarf. This post is the fifth in a series. 


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