Who is Lacey Baker? If you happened to catch the X-Games in Austin last month you would have seen her win gold in the Women’s Street contest. Her run was flawless, combining technically savvy manuals with full rotations and an array of flip tricks. It’s hard to believe that we don’t hear her name more often; after all Pedro Barros won the gold in the Men’s contest and we’ve seen his name all over the place since then. So why haven’t we seen Lacey on billboards or in commercials?
Establishing professional women’s skateboarding as a serious sport has always been an uphill battle. Up until 2006, the prize purse for the women’s skateboarding X-Games event was substantially smaller than the men’s purse. Luckily, The Action Sports Alliance was formed by some of the most recognized names in female skateboarding, including the likes of Cara Beth Burnside, Lyn Z Adams, Vanessa Torres and Jen O’Brien, and began taking steps toward leveling out the playing field. The Action Sports Alliance boosted the female skateboarding culture to a new high, earning a matched prize purse for contests and extended amounts of media coverage. Additionally, they were able to open up female events in the newer Dew Action Sports Tour. But in 2011, their efforts proved futile when the X-Games actually pulled the plug on Women’s skateboarding due to a lack of popularity and participant base. This crushed the hopes and dreams of pro women skateboards at the time, as well as the young females skateboarders that looked up to them. As far as the business side of skateboarding has been concerned, the overall support for women’s skateboarding has been bleak.
Although it’s easy to point fingers toward big corporations for issues like this, skateboarders in general haven’t been the most supportive of women’s skateboarding either. Skateboarding has historically been aimed towards males. Go to a skate park on any given day and you’ll see the population is dominantly male. Is it because the girls didn’t want to buy a deck that sported a half naked woman on it? Maybe they went to the local skate shop only to find boy’s clothing. These are all safe assumptions. However, what about that saying that every brother has told their sister about skateboarding or for that matter any sport in general?
“You play like a girl.”
“You play like a girl” is something that you would expect to hear during recess hour in elementary school. However it was only last year when Nyjah Huston threw himself into the spotlight of sexism when he was quoted telling Thrasher Magazine that “some girls can skate but I personally believe that skateboarding is not for girls at all. Not one bit.” Although he apologized (and seemed very genuine) the elephant in the room not only remained, his comments still caused damage and reinforced the idea that women don’t have a place in professional skateboarding.
That’s where Cindy Whitehead comes in.
Cindy has been making waves lately in the skateboarding world, for both men and women. Cindy went pro at the age of 17 and became the #1 female in the United States for pool and vert skating. She understands why every skateboarder wants to be the first to do something, which is why she teamed up with Dusters California (one of our favorite skateboard manufacturers) to create the “Girl is Not a Four Letter Word” skateboard. Every penny of Cindy’s profits from these boards goes toward the Girl Riders Organization, which helps support girls in pursuing a life involving action sports. We couldn’t be more stoked for Cindy’s cause and can’t wait to see what the future holds for women’s skateboarding.