The days of the stereotypical skateboarder being a male adolescent with a perceived objective to destroy property may be over. One would hear urethane wheels tearing through concrete, only interrupted by the cracks in the sidewalk and expect to see one of these adolescent boys. Thrasher shirt, cuffed pants, beanie and a flannel. Look closely. In 2017 what you previously may assume to be a boy may be the next female ripper on your block.
The skateboard industry and the rules within are typically not known by those who’ve never ridden a skateboard. The culture is as intriguing as the maneuvers performed. Skateboarding has consciously made efforts to separate itself from the norms of society. However, the societal norm of gender inequality found ways to seep in.
There have been a small number of female skaters to earn a name in the industry. Elissa Steamer, Cara-Beth Burnside, Marisa Dal Santos, and Vanessa Torres to name a few. However, this didn’t stop some male skaters from looking at female skaters as a little sister rather than a competitor.
“I’ve been teased or judged by random dudes at the park who think they can come up to me and tell me to try this or that. Or to fix what I’m doing in order to land something,” said Allysha Le, amateur skateboarder. “It bums me out when people assume they can just come up to me and start coaching my skateboarding because I’m a chick.”
Barring a few knuckleheads, what makes skateboarding great is the community and culture. That culture is now creating many opportunities for an influx of girls who are great skaters.
Over the past few decades females skaters were few and far between. Those who were talented on the board weren’t recognized in the way they deserved. Major skateboard companies would steer away from sponsoring girls, leaving them without the proper support to build a professional career.
The prevalence of social media created an opportunity for skateboarding to reach those it previously wouldn’t have. Many of those reached are girls and these girls are more than capable of riding a skateboard equal to or better than some men. Though it has taken a while, as the road has been paved by many female skaters who’ve endured inequality, in 2017 women are finally getting respect and it’s long overdue.
“For one there are a lot more women ripping in the skate scene, said Allysha. “There’s still a huge gap in skateboarding, men compared to women, but when I was a kid I was the only girl at the park. Now I roll up and there can be a whole group of chicks skating.”
Allysha has received notable recognition for her ability on a skateboard. The 21-year-old transition skater has been featured in a litany of contests and magazines around the world, including the X-Games.
Allysha’s sponsors consist of Dickies, Creature Skateboards, SoCal skateshop, Independent Trucks, Doomsayers Club, Bones Wheels, Bones Bearings, Pro-Tec helmets, 187 Pads.
Skateboarding first caught Allysha’s eye when she saw her dad and uncle riding around. 14 years later, she’s still progressing and loving every minute of it. Allysha’s love for skateboarding comes from the freedom it offers.
“What initially made me fall in love with skating is you can be creative and pick the tricks that you want to do.” said Allysha.
The creativity, freedom, and community of skateboarding have drawn in many female skateboarders who are now being supported by some of skateboarding’s biggest brands. Nike SB and Adidas have been pioneers in their support of females such as Nora Vasconcellos, Lacey Baker, and Leticia Bufoni, among others.
In addition to the opportunities presented by major sponsors, a number of competitions have also created a platform for female skaters to gain notoriety on a bigger stage.
“I’d say the industry has progressed in giving women more recognition and chances at sponsorships. With the whole Olympic thing going on, the girls have qualifying and a spot in 2020 like the guys. Events like Street League and Vans Park Series are helping with that. The fact that those 2 events are now hosting women’s skateboard contests is a big step.” said Allysha.
The future for female skateboarders is brighter than it has ever been. One would hope this new wave of female rippers will give other girls the confidence to step on a board and experience the freedom skateboarding offers.
Many female skaters are pleased with the progress made, and how that progress can help blossom the careers of female skaters from here on out.
“I’m optimistic about the future, in all aspects. I think it’d be cool to just keep witnessing skateboarders growing together. Guys getting stoked off of girls killing it, and vice versa,” said Allysha. “The vibe of everyone feeding off of each other’s styles is what I want to see. Anything negative I don’t.”