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Can Your Mom Do This?

Danielle Schwartz teaches young girls to skateboard.

Photo: Allison Zaucha
Photo: Allison Zaucha

They call the sudden surge of female skateboarders a revolution. The “They” in question is the group of women behind @grlswirl, a skating sisterhood with 34,500 followers on Instagram. It was co-founded by Danielle Schwartz, who looks exactly like what you’d imagine when you picture a woman living in California who teaches young girls to skate. But while you’d swear she came out of the womb with a board and a pair of vans, Schwartz started skating when she was 30 and moved back to her native California from New York. It was simple — she wanted an easy way to commute. But that turned into an unexpected love for the sport she had previously thought was just not for her.

“Skateboarding is really empowering because of the fear element,” Schwartz said. “Every time you learn how to drop into a new bowl or skate down a hill, you’re overcoming a fear and that translates into the rest of your life as well.”

A friend casually mentioned to her that there was a group of women her age who skated together at the Venice Beach boardwalk. At Schwartz’s first meeting with them, she found their energy “exhilarating.” They formed a group, started an Instagram documenting their skates, and it grew into GRLSWIRL. Every other Tuesday, they host open skates for women and girls of any level, from anywhere. Even Schwartz’s 1-and-a-half-year-old daughter joins (though she can’t skate, obviously). They also go to schools and after-school programs to teach. Since forming GRLSWIRL last year, they’ve taught over 80 young girls the basics of skating.

“Having the younger girls around is really important and inspiring,” she said. “That’s — on the grander scale — why we’re organizing, so we can inspire girls and women all over the world. I lived my whole life being intimidated by skateboarding.”

And that’s a big reason why Schwartz — who is also a designer — loves to skate and teach skating. She wants to fill the void she saw when she was growing up of women who were both actively feminine and athletic. There are many more women today who show off both their fashionable and athletic sides (just look at Serena Williams and her catsuits) than Schwartz saw when she was younger, and she feels like she’s a part of that genre of grown-up tomboy.

“I feel like I’m creating an archetype for my daughter and the younger girls who can look at us and see that we don’t just dress up like a boy to fit in and we’re not changing who we are.”

At the very least, the photos will make you want to find your nearest board, beach, and girlfriend.

Can Your Mom Do This?