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      culture Daryl Merson 24 August 2016

      lizzie armanto on the lack of diversity in skating

      Lizzie Armanto never planned to become a figurehead for female skateboarding, but it is clear from the way that she often pauses for some time to give measured answers that she is now cautious to represent it correctly. We caught up with Lizzie at the Vans Pro Park Series in Malmö to discuss skateboarding's gender inequality and look to the potential impact the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could have on the scene

      lizzie armanto on the lack of diversity in skating lizzie armanto on the lack of diversity in skating lizzie armanto on the lack of diversity in skating

      How often are you shot by female skate photographers?
      It's not that common, especially in the skateboarding industry. With skateboard photography there is a certain way to do it, so you have to be educated on it. It's not something that anyone can jump into. There are girl skateboarders who film, as the two things usually go hand in hand.

      Is it different being shot by a girl?
      It is different I think, but at the moment I live in a world where I don't really know what it is like to be shot by a female.

      How did you feel about the Vogue skate week and their coverage of female skateboarding?
      Is this the one where a couple of models were skating and it was like, "people said they couldn't do it, but now they are here," and it's footage of the models kick turning at a skatepark - they don't know what the fuck they are doing [laughs]. I saw the one where these models go to this skatepark in Brooklyn and they're hanging out, having fun obviously, but definitely not representing skateboarding in an accurate way.

      Are there any magazines that do a good job of appealing to female skateboarders?
      There aren't really any that are driven towards female skateboarding. There are zines, like The Skate Witches, and I was part of Hello, Skater Girl, but that was just a one off type thing. It was my friend, he is a photographer he wanted to learn how to shoot skateboarding through just shooting females skateboarders. It's a cool project.

      How do you feel about the disparity between prize funds in skateboarding?
      There is definitely a huge difference between the prize purses for men and women, but men's skateboarding is a lot more lucrative. I'm not saying that women don't deserve to have an equal prize purse, but the following isn't as big and therefore the money isn't as big, and there isn't the support that is needed for companies to dish out money.

      I think that the level of female skateboarding is coming up hugely, but I don't feel like companies have figured out how to market female skateboarding. They are getting there.

      How will skateboarding in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics impact the female skate scene?
      I think the Olympics is going to change skateboarding from the way it is now. There's going to be a lot more parks, contests, and exposure. And in return there are going to be more men and women. I think it will be good, a lot more people will be involved, but I hope that all of these new events will be put on by the right people who make the right decisions, to keep skateboarding true to itself.

      It will be interesting because a huge proportion of skate culture is based in the US. And it will be hard to break that down to decide who is going to ride for the US. I know countries buy riders too, like if you look at the table tennis, everyone's Chinese.

      Did you get invited to go on the Thrasher King Of The Road trip with Birdhouse?
      I met up with the guys, it was crazy. I went on the day when Jaws did the step up on the mega ramp naked; did the loop; and I think he did a dark slide that day too. Probably three of the most diverse things you can do, so gnarly, Jaws is an animal [laughs].

      Do you get your own room on trips?
      Usually, but on the last trip the hotel we were going to stay at was so sketchy that the team manager was like, "we can't stay here." But because we went to a nice hotel last minute the budget was a lot shorter so I ended up having to share a room. It was quite an experience. I shared a room with Gabriel Summers, Shaun Hill, and Jason Hernandez. I had my own bed so it was cool.

      Do you respond to Instagram comments and DMs?
      I don't reply to them. People say different stuff online to what they would in real life. And as much as there are people being sincere, they are way outnumbered by the people trolling. There are so many weirdos. I do get weirdos in real life too. It might just be normal weirdos because I'm a girl. There are people who come up to me and talk to me about nothing and it's really awkward because I want to leave and they don't have anything to say, they tend to either not make sense, or they say a bunch of stuff and then try to keep talking to me about nothing.

      Do you think they are nervous?
      Yeah, they are definitely nervous. Sometimes it's like, "I don't have anything to say to you," and I have to awkwardly end the conversation.

      Did you intend to become a figurehead for female skateboarding?
      I did not. I started skating because it was fun, and it was a way to be competitive with my younger brother. And then I started doing contests because I like pressure, I do a lot better under it, I push myself. Through all of these contests I have done really well, and now I am in this position. Part of it was also working to get the job I have now, and making professional skateboarding a reality for me, that was very hard.

      What will you do after professional skateboarding?
      I will always be a skateboarder for fun, but one day I hope to have my own company, where I'm doing art. 

      Related: 5 Young Female Skateboarders to Watch


      Text Daryl Mersom
      Images courtesy of Vans

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      Topics:culture, skateboarding, lizzie armanto, vans pro park series

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