Female empowerment, social equality, and a male dominated sport. It all boils down to one thing. Girls who skateboard are becoming more popular than ever in mainstream media, but until now there has never been a book showing just how unique these skater girls really are.
Skateboarding hall of fame legend and author of “It’s Not About Pretty” Cindy Whitehead has been in the skate industry and has watched it grow and watches the girls continue to crush the game which inspired her to produce the first comprehensive skateboarding book on women.
The book showcases the female empowerment skateboarding brings to girls and women, alike. The book reminds us that girls are not just pretty faces and should strive for so much more in today’s world.
Here at Penny we believe that skateboarding brings people together as a community. No matter who you are or what you believe in you are welcome. We were so inspired about the message in this book and what Cindy’s brand Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word stands for so of course we wanted to get the inside scoop on everything. We had a chance to catch up with Cindy Whitehead, author of the book & Elise Crigar, designer of the book on the background, what inspired them throughout the process, and working together as a team.
Skateboarding Hall Of Fame Legend Cindy Whitehead
What does the Statement Girl is not a 4 letter word mean?
The phrase means to stop using the word GIRL as a slur. Most words that are nasty, mean or derogatory have 4 letters and when we hear people say things like “You skate pretty good…. for a GIRL” that is using the word girl as a put down, it’s saying that girls are less than boys. Not cool.
As a 70’s pro skater how do you think skating has evolved and where do you think it’s going?
I think in the past year we have seen so much more movement for girls in skateboarding – more than we have seen in the past 30 combined! For skateboarding in general I think it’s cool that you will now have the choice (and it is a choice) to compete and possibly go to the Olympics, or to stay away from all of that and continue to be a soul skater. So many different types of skateboarding and so many options. In my eyes that is great.
What motivated you to create It’s Not About Pretty?
When I was getting started skateboarding in the mid 70’s I looked for every picture I could find of girls in skateboard magazines so I could put them on my bedroom walls for inspiration , and there were never very many. As I got older and turned pro I met and skated with other rad female skaters and still did not see enough coverage. Fast forward 30+ years and I still saw the same thing happening. So for the past four years I have had this idea to do a book on all these amazing and rad girls. Photographer Ian Logan has been shooting the girls contests, soul skating, downhill, street and more for our website for a very long time and had over 40,000 images. We slowly started narrowing them down and working with designer Elise Crigar to create a 144 page, hardback book that features 65 skater girls from ages 5 to 50. We decided to include a 15 x 19 poster in the back of every book – you get one of four different skate posters – so girls would now have some female inspiration for their own bedroom walls. It’s a coffee table style photography book – heavy on imagery and rivals the top notch quality of any book one of the major art publishers would do. We want people out there to know these girls are amazing and you should know about them.
Who are some of the girl skaters featured in the book?
So many! But to name just a few; Lizzie Armanto, Jordyn Barratt, Poppy Starr Olsen, Vanessa Torres, downhill rippers like Anna O’Neil & Amie Sheppard, and soul skaters you may never have heard of until now. But we have never posted a list of all 65 girls, as we want them to discover their photos for themselves. We also want people to look through the book and just be amazed at the level of skating on every single page rather than be fixated on just one female skater they already know – there are so many girls out there killing it.
What is your biggest tip you have for up and coming girls in a male dominated industry?
Keep standing up, speaking out, and asking for what you want – you are forging new paths and creating an entire new landscape in skateboarding. I’d also like to encourage every girl out there to create their own media in any shape or form and put it out there, I find that exciting and a way for people to see the progression in girls skateboarding.
Florida Skater & Designer Of It’s Not About Pretty, Elise Crigar
Tell us about your creative direction for the book design and how it came to life
After hearing about the book idea and seeing the photos I was given to use, I was inspired to create a design that reflected the culture, attitude and lifestyle of the amazing subjects. These girls have no limits; they are edgy, unique and beautiful. I used different textures, torn up photographs and typographic solutions that were bold and fun but still simple and allowed the beauty of each image to stand true to itself. After narrowing down a color scheme, along with fonts and images I was able to create a cohesive design pattern for the book as a whole.
As a creative how does being a female skater inspire you and your work?
Design, art, and photography are powerful tools that can create experiences for the viewers. I find beauty in the contrast created between a girl and a skateboard. I try to focus on that relationship. It is unexpected and challenges preconceived notions. My hopes are that this inspires others to draw parallels in their lives, it doesn’t even have to be skateboarding. No matter their age or ability, girls are capable.
In a typically male dominated lifestyle what inspired you to start skating and who do you look up to in skating?
Growing up I remember watching videos of girls downhill long boarding on youtube and I was just mesmerized and thought it was the most beautiful thing. In high school, all of my friends skated (all boys), and I eventually just got tired of watching them and wanted to do it myself. I started by climbing into bowls and just pumping. I was told that girls “didn’t need to know how to drop in.” Of course, that only fueled my passion to keep skating and get better.
Today I look up to any girl that has the confidence and drive to pick up a board and go skate: my local friends that skate simply because they have fun doing it, and the pro girls that have given their lives to the sport. I also really admire women like Cindy that have not only given their life to skating but are now giving back. People like her are the reason the sport is still alive and growing for girls.
What was it like working along side a skate legend like Cindy on this project?
It took me a while to accept that she really was calling me to talk about design and that this project was actually happening. It felt a bit unreal in the beginning. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were one in the same and totally got each other. Sharing visions about our passions and work ethic made the project easy. It was almost as if we had known each other for a long time, although we actually have never even met in person.
To future designers what is one piece of advice you can share?
Never be afraid to ask! That is the main thing I took away from this whole experience. If you have a passion or a feeling in your gut, go for it. You can miss out on so many opportunities by worrying about not being good enough or comparing yourself to others. Be bold in your passions. That is the only way to make them come to life.
Win A Copy Of Your Own Along With A Penny Board
Seeing rad ladies crushing it is insanely inspiring. We’ve only featured a few pages out of 144 pages of this awesome book. We want the message of this book to inspire you and all of your closest friends which is why we’re giving away A copy of It’s Not About Pretty as well as a Penny Board of your choice. To enter see our Instagram post here.
All photos in this comprehensive book were taken by Ian Logan
All Photos of Elise With The Penny Board were taken by Tori Ray