I was watching a Ted Talk by a woman named Caroline Paul this week when I was suddenly struck with the inspiration for this week’s blog post. I’d like to revisit some of what I discussed in the post “Why Skateboarding” but thanks to Caroline’s speech, I’d like to highlight girl skaters this week when discussing the benefits of skateboarding.
Caroline Paul is a former firefighter and author. In her talk, “To Raise Brave Girls, Encourage Adventure” she discusses why parents are more likely to unconsciously treat their daughters differently than their sons and how this difference in parenting can negatively affect the way these girls assess themselves. This pattern of being repeatedly cautioned and coddled can make girls feel like they aren’t equipped to handle adversity, which can lead to lower levels of self esteem and higher levels of anxiety.
“Now the irony is that at this young age girls and boys are actually very alike physically, in fact girls are often stronger until puberty, and more mature. And yet we adults act as if girls are more fragile and more in need of help, and they can’t handle as much. This is the message we absorb as kids and this is the message that fully permeates as we grow up.”
As a parent, your main priority is to keep your child safe, but there appears to be a double standard for boys and girls. Young boys are encouraged to explore and experiment even at the risk of injury, whereas young girls are often cautioned out of trying what the boys are doing in an attempt to protect them. This way of thinking is not only untrue, but it can also have long lasting negative effects as these girls grow up.
Now you may be thinking, “Kyle I agree, girls are every bit as capable as boys, but this is a skateboarding blog. What kind of argument are you trying to make?”
Well I’m glad you asked. My point is, skateboarding does not discriminate. It doesn’t treat you differently based on your age, gender, race, etc. No matter who you are, as long as you skate, you’re a skater. To further illustrate my point, here’s another direct quote from Caroline’s speech, and as you read it, be sure to think about how her message aligns with the benefits of skateboarding.
“And yeah. Will they get injured? Maybe, maybe. But will it stop them from getting hurt in much bigger ways later? Yes. Because the things you learn when you skin your knee are so important and they help you when you’re a woman.”
Caroline’s talk is great, and I highly recommend giving it a listen you can view it here. Girls should be allowed and encouraged to fall down, just as they should be encouraged to get back up again. Girl skaters are an integral part of the community, not because they are girls, but because they are skaters.