One of my favorite aspects of historical costuming is wearing clothes that are so big and take up so much space. The bigger the better! More petticoats! Bigger hoops! Taller hair!
It used to be that I pretty much only felt beautiful and confident in costume. I felt like I needed to be small and quiet in real life, that I needed to avoid attention and deflect all compliments. I even stooped my shoulders and tried to make myself small in public.
And then something happened.
Becoming an athlete changed the way I felt about my body and what it could do. I wasn’t so worried about how it looked anymore – it became what about it could do. I could take hits and score points and out-run the opposing team. I could lift heavy things and put them back down again.
I could take up space.
That space right there? It’s mine.
You see, taking up space is one of the most important parts of roller derby. As a blocker, you want to physically take up as much space as possible to stop the opposing team from scoring points on you. As a jammer you want to claim the blocker’s space as your own to score those points.
You can’t be afraid to take up space on the track.
And that’s a hard instinct to turn off once you’ve stared. I admit, I can be a menace when I walk through crowded places now. I’m not afraid to bump shoulders or weave in and out of crowds of strangers. I stand up straighter. I’m not as afraid to speak out or stand up for myself. Because I own my space.
Because you can’t be afraid to take up space in life.
My plaid ass as a life metaphor.
But the thing is, I totally COULD have learned this from costuming. The way I feel in costume is almost exactly how I felt on the track. Confident and ready to take up space. Powerful and confident in my abilities.
I am still that person in every day life. That confidence doesn’t live in my skates or my costumes. I carry that confidence in me.
Me, taking up space in real life.
So next time you feel like you need to make yourself smaller, think about how you feel in costume. Elegant, confident, and proud of your skills. You are that person all the time. Own it.
Take your space.