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The London Skate Mums are a group of 50 passionate skateboarders. Thriving in a male and youth-dominated environment, the crew are all about challenging stereotypes, supporting each other and, obviously, having shedloads of fun. On a sunny Thursday afternoon, we meet eight of the group’s enthusiastic members (meeting all 50 of them would have been a logistical nightmare).
Back row (left to right): Esther, Aga, Jardena. Front row (left to right): Alix, Lucy, Yen, Shushan and Nesha
Jardena: When I was growing up, guys doing silly things was cool. But there was a lot of shame around girls doing silly things. Girls didn’t want to get scuffed knees, or rather, men didn’t want to see girls get scuffed knees. Attitudes are changing now. Skateboarding is still male-dominated, but groups like ours are creating a safe space for us. It’s empowering.
Esther: I lost my confidence quite a lot following surgery, and this group helped me feel like there is a space that supports me. I’ve had comments from young boys, probably just because they’ve never seen a woman of my age skateboarding. They can be a bit taken aback. That’s why the group tends to meet very early in the morning, when the skate park is quiet.
Jardena: I’ve always got this group in my pocket. I could be at a new place, in a new park, it’s like they’re there. I broke my foot at a skate park in Berlin, and the first thing I did was get a photo of me with the ambulance guys to send to my skate girls. I take this group everywhere. And that gives me confidence. Because skateparks can be a lonely, intimidating place without them.
Lucy: A new skatepark opened near us and my kids loved it. I was spending a lot of time on the sidelines, so I asked for a board for my birthday. My kids skate… but I think my enthusiasm has surpassed theirs. Not my skill though. I’m just much keener than they are.
Esther: I came to it when my kids were slightly older. And it was because I no longer had a kid that I needed to care for in that very particular way that you do when they’re really young. I was at the end of my 40s and feeling really constricted, purposeless and quite depressed looking back at it. Skateboarding gave me a reason to keep going. It ended up being a sort of antidote to being middle aged. And that immediately preceded me starting HRT and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Lucy: Once we’re in the skate park, we’ve only had support and encouragement. But outside of the skate park, we’ve experienced more negativity that could put some people off. I quite often get men shouting things like ‘reliving your youth, love’. The only thing I’ve ever had a woman shout was a little old lady who just shouted ‘rip in!’. I love her. I am older, I am a mum, I know my age. I can either own it or I spend my whole life struggling against something that I can’t change.
Nesha: Everyone wants everyone to do well whether they’ve been skating for 10 years, or six months. I’ve not found that anywhere else really.
Lucy: It’s been amazing, for me and my daughter. When my daughter gets a bit intimidated and down about being the only girl in the park, I can say ‘I’m here’. But my kids also encourage me to go to the skatepark at busy times. If they weren’t there, I’d feel more nervous. I’m brave for my kids.
Nesha: People hear I skate, and they immediately think of teenage kids and Tony Hawk, not a mum in her 40s. It’s taught me a lot of life skills. It’s taught me to stick with something. To not give up even though it’s the easier thing to do.
Lucy: For me, skateboarding is a way of feeling alive. As a mum, you get so caught up. Life is just chores, snacks and plasters. Skateboarding gives you a real sense of freedom and joy.
Jardena: We clearly aren’t doing anything different or quirky – just look at how many people we have in the Whatsapp group. You just have to find the people. The ability to find your people is everywhere.