Victoria-based roller skater Andrea Boyes has joined in a movement to change a roller dance move named crazy legs, to silly legs. Words matter, and the Canadian Mental Health Commission says describing things as crazy perpetuates stigma, and stigma remains the number one reason people don’t seek treatment for mental illness. Boyes is using the hashtag #sillylegs to bring awareness to this on her Instagram page @skaterboyes and is also selling t-shirts designed by fellow Canadian roller skater Michka from @groovecityapparel to raise funds for the Victoria Canadian Mental Health Association.
Boyes was motivated to take action for a few reasons. She was able to overcome stigma and get treated for generalized anxiety disorder which she still manages today with medication. Boyes then attended Royal Roads University for her MA in Professional Communication and focused her research on representations of mental illness in media and how they can contribute to stigma. She learned that words matter, and how choosing other words such as silly instead of crazy can make a difference. This year she took a Canadian Mental Health Commission first aid course at her workplace and was again reminded that using words such as crazy can contribute to stigma and be triggering to those with mental illness. Meanwhile, this move had become her signature roller dance move and she was teaching it to others in Victoria and around the world online.
She knew then she had to do something.
“Based on my own experiences and learnings along the way I had to join the effort to use a different word to describe this move. I will continue to teach my students this move as Silly Legs and also work on taking the word crazy out of my vocabulary when I could use a less stigmatizing word to describe something. If something so simple as a name change will make people with mental illness feel less shame, and also change perspectives, why wouldn’t you do it? I am grateful have an opportunity to use my Instagram platform for good and also raise funds for an organization doing great work for mental health in our community”.
Her roller skate school Roller Skate Victoria has now adopted the name Silly Legs to describe this dance move, and other skaters are joining in. You can get your own #SillyLegs t-shirt here: https://rollerskatevictoria.com/sillylegs-tshirt/