Professional skater Lizzie Armanto made history in November 2016 when she became the first female skateboarder ever to be featured on the cover of TRANSWORLD SKATEBOARDING. As one of the top female skateboarders in the world, Armanto has become an empowering figure for women and girls looking to succeed in male-dominated sports environments.
Recently, Armanto, alongside Vans, has partnered with Atita Verghese and her organization Girls Skate India to continue to break down the gender barriers that have globally become associated with skateboarding.
The partnership is a part of Vans’ This is Off The Wall campaign, which was launched in 2017. This is Off The Wall showcases the company’s essence through a diverse set of stories that embody the creativity that Vans has always supported. In 2018, Vans wants to expand the project by taking a closer look at creative communities around the world, including India.
“India I guess, is like a really rough, raw country,” Verghese said in a video. “But it’s really beautiful. There’s all these really cultural things I really like. But girls have been oppressed here for so many decades now. They’re expected to be girls and do all this girl stuff. So that’s what I really like about skateboarding, that it doesn’t really have those set rules.”
Skateboarding, for as long as I can remember, has always been widely considered “for the boys.” The gender association likely began during the 1970s when the sport first became popularized in California by a group of skateboarders known as the Z-Boys.
Tony Hawk and Ryan Sheckler were the skateboarding superstars of my childhood. I remember living down the street from a skatepark where my friends and I would watch the neighborhood boys wipe out whenever they tried to do some fancy trick to show off. I remember wanting to try for myself to see if I could do any better, but was too afraid to ask because I didn’t want to be laughed at. I never had someone like Lizzie Armanto to look up to. I never thought that skateboarding was something that I could do.
Empowerment stems from representation. The only female skater I knew about growing up was Reggie from the Nickelodeon show Rocket Power and she wasn’t even a real person. Armanto recognizes the importance of representation, and she and Verghese are committed to showing young girls that skateboarding is something they can succeed in.
The Vans installment focuses on “Girls Skate India” and shows how young girls gain confidence through skateboarding. It highlights how they use the sport to express themselves creatively through movement.
“Girls Skate India” is just the beginning. Vans will be mobilizing to different communities around the world to offer skateboarding clinics to local girls who want to learn to skate.
Vans’ mission to empower young girls is a gnarly feat and we can’t wait to see girls all over the world shredding on their boards!
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