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Mexicanas redefining skate culture

May. 7, 2018
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When you think of a skater, what likely pops up in your head is a scraggly-haired guy with dirty Dickies, torn Vans, and a deck never too far from arm’s reach. Like most stereotypes, however, this ‘guy’ does not represent the entirety of skate culture. The goal of this piece was to push past that representation of what people think skaters are and should be. Alondra and myself have been woven into this world of skating for a while now, and we’ve discovered it to be a community filled with respect, creative energy, and a strong sense of family. We wanted to create a space to show how expansive skate culture really is and to represent female skaters of color.

What brought this piece into existence was a late night in which Alondra went a little too deep in the Instagram discover feed. During that time, she found 22-year-old Anna Bernal’s Instagram (@blackwytch). Based in Mexico City, Anna skates the streets and creates art with her friends, 20-year-old Monica Heras Hernandez (@paeika), 18-year-old Itzel Lara (@caleidoscopioh), 24-year-old Daniela Torres, and 20-year-old Isabela Salgado Ramirez (@velaswangh). Alondra had a ticket to visit Mexico City for Christmas, so with a tap of her screen she nervously sent a message to Anna asking if she and her friends would like to meet up and take photos. Luckily, the answer was a yes.

Together, they set off into the streets of Mexico City with cameras and skate decks in hand, ready to see where the day would take them. During their adventures around the city, from skating the streets to cruising around and visiting different skate parks, Alondra had the chance to talk to them and get to know them a bit better.

Before diving into the Q&A, it needs to be said that this group of young women is incredibly creative and inspiring to both Alondra and me. Society’s standards and expectations do not hinder these women from pushing boundaries in the global skate community and achieving what they aspire to do. They bring people together with their skating and their art. To say what they are doing is special and important is an understatement.

Vanessa: Would you say the skate culture here in Mexico differs from what you have seen from the skate culture in America?

Itzel: I think the skate culture in Mexico is different because of the changes we have. We have different skateparks, food, [and] music, and I think all of that affects the way we ride our boards. 

Vanessa: You all also make your own art, do you wanna tell us a little bit about that?

Monica: I make illustrations… [which] are based on the fact that the origin of plants is older than the origin of [humans], and therefore [plants] are more wise about life. Plants should not be mistreated by the human being, [and this idea results] in images where the plants rebel against man.

Vanessa: Was there anything or anyone in particular that inspired you to start skating?

Itzel: When I was introduced to skateboarding culture, I didn’t have a girl skater that I admired. What inspired me was the boys, and when I met some friends in high school they motivated me to skate more.

Vanessa: What does it mean for you to be a woman in skateboarding? 

Anna: To show that skating is a sport that everyone can play.

Vanessa: Do you see yourself staying in this community and skating for a long time?

Anna: Yes, forever! Thanks to skateboarding, I've met many valuable people in my life! And I would not change it or leave it.

Vanessa: Do you just follow the skate scene in Mexico, or do you follow what’s going on in skating in America and other places as well?

Itzel: I would love to see what the community of Mexico is sharing about female skating. Because of the internet, I can get motivated [by] girls [from] all over the world, and someday if I travel we can become good friends because of skating.          

Written by Vanessa Vega