A League of Their OwnMeet the GRLSWIRL Sisterhood of all-female skaters
If you ever find yourself in Venice Beach, don't be surprised if you discover—among the endless stretches of sun, sand, boardwalk and bodybuilders—an all-female pack of skateboarders coasting past you, all smiles, weaving in and out with the occasional flip trick that makes your eyes pop. Take that, Tony Hawk and the ol' boys’ club of skateboarding yore. This is GRLSWIRL and the sight is awesome, and inspiring.
The story begins with former pro ballerina Lucy Osinski, who, having taken up the sport, soon realized the unfortunate but all-too-common downside to which every woman can relate: the catcalls and unwanted attention she attracted when skating alone. "I started recruiting other women in hopes of finding more comfort in numbers, literally chasing down girls on boards to join a little text chain,” she recalls. “After a couple of months, a nine-person crew had assembled. Soon, I wasn’t just sharing the streets with other ladies; I was sharing the empowerment and freedom I got from skateboarding.”
Since its founding last year, their meet-up has turned into a movement with over 175 members and counting. Every other Tuesday, GRLSWIRL hosts a group skate and hits the Venice streets—all ages, all skill levels—sometimes with out-of-town visitors in tow. It also hosts regular charity events, such as a recent fundraiser for a local homeless shelter. As for the curious name, Osinski explains, “We were women swirling together like ice cream, all different flavors, colors and styles in one cone.”
Top, from left: Myriah Marquez, Danielle Schwartz, Julia Amma, Lucy Osinski and Lindsey Klucik. Here: Lauren Crew-Neck Tee and Carly 11" Kick-Flare Jeans
Not only are these SoCal rollers overturning expectations, but they’re doing it on their own terms, too. Part of the mission, as the tagline goes, focuses on bringing femininity to the male-dominated skate scene. Note the word femininity. “We’ve seen some badass women lead the way for us today,” says Julia Amma, “but even then there was a stigma attached to female skaters. There wasn’t much room to explore a more authentically feminine side of the sport. We’re taking the reins and pioneering an inclusive and accessible era.” And femininity, she adds, can mean a lot things—with the takeaway of being true to yourself. “You can wear baggy shorts or a dress, makeup or piercings. That’s the beauty of it.”
There’s more to this tribe than a love of the board; it’s a true sisterhood. “I found shelter, a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold,” says Myriah Marquez while fellow co-founder Danielle Schwartz points out that the impact goes beyond their sessions together: “As we started skating together, we naturally encouraged each other to overcome fears by trying different things—dropping into bowls, going down hills, skating at the park with boys—all super-intimidating things many of us would never have done without the crew cheering us on. These feats made me feel so brave in my life, broke me free from a lot of the boundaries I had subconsciously placed on myself and made me believe so much more is possible.”
“We created a safe space for women to connect, share and feel empowered,” says Lindsey Klucik. “We circle up, open up, skate and what happens is always pure magic.”
From left: Paulette Jacket, Adrina Skinny Pant, Salla Graphic Tee, Kirra Flood-Length Jeans, Abbey Crew-Neck Tee, Gisela Camo Straight-Leg Pants
We created a safe space for women to connect, share and feel empowered,” says Lindsey Klucik. “We circle up, open up, skate and what happens is always pure magic.