When a photo of Cindy Whitehead skateboarding down a California highway went viral, everyone assumed she was a man.
Female skateboarding has long been unfairly overshadowed by the sport’s male counterparts but things are gradually changing, thanks to the badass women inspiring the next generation of girls to get on boards. One of them is pro skateboarder Cindy Whitehead, who we caught up with in California to get the low-down on the female skateboarding scene and to find out how to get more women and girls involved.
‘If you fall off, you get back on again – that’s an important message for young girls and women in America right now in this time of political uncertainty,’ says Cindy Whitehead, a pro-skateboarder of 38 years and ambassador for gender equality in the sport. ‘When I started in the 70s, female skateboarding was still taboo and I was the only girl at the skatepark. I had to block out negative comments and stand my ground. I got sick of hearing, “She’s pretty good for a girl.”’
Whitehead is the founder of Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word, which funds grass-roots projects in her native California to get more girls skating and to inspire the next generation of skaters. It is rapidly transforming the female skateboarding scene and Cindy isn’t about to stop there. Her new photography book with photographer Ian Logan – It’s Not About Pretty: A Book About Radical Skater Girls – aims to change perceptions of the sport, which finally makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. In the UK, the popularity is growing thanks to the rise of seriously cool all-female skate clubs, such as Girl Skate UK and She Shredders.
‘I’ve seen pictures of girls in Iran holding skateboards, and in Japan, even if girls don’t skate, they carry boards like a purse,’ she says.
‘It’s cool. That’s why fashion has embraced it, too. I know that wherever I go in the world with my skateboard, I’ll meet like-minded women.’