Interview by Kyla Rain
Aimee Gillingwater is a young London skater taking the world by storm and giving the boys a run for their money. With her friends, she started an all girl skate group called Bowl Babes, looking to create a welcome space for young women in skate parks all over the UK. We got the chance to interview Aimee about how she initially started skating, social stereotypes, and breaking those boundaries one park at a time. It’s strong, powerful women like these that stage revolutions, and inspire girls everywhere to spark change and follow their passions, despite what society might tell them.
Why skating! How did you first get into it? And why did you stick with it?
I’m the oldest of three kids, and I’ve got two younger brothers. I originally got into skating through one of my younger brothers who picked it up first. I thought it was cool but never really thought I’d be able to be a trick skater, so I’d just push around and stuff. But I owe it to my boyfriend, Edison, for pushing me to believe I could do it and teaching me just how much I love the sport.
Do you ever get any negative responses? Male skaters in particular – are they generally surprised? Supportive? Assholes?
A vast majority of the people I meet at parks are so so lovely and supportive, especially of girls ripping. But you do get the occasional asshole who thinks it’s funny to snake you, laugh at you when you fall, or just make pretty sexist, dumb comments. But you get that everywhere, not just in skating. I ignore them.
Why do you think more girls aren’t involved in this sport? Are there a lot of girl skaters in the U.K, or not?
I think it’s just that a lot of girls don’t have access to the sport until they’re older, or don’t have the courage to try it until they see another girl. It’s a weird mental thing, but I think showing other women it’s possible and not exclusively a boy sport is an important way of growing the scene; especially showing younger girls it’s possible. I mean, the UK girl scene is still small but it’s certainly growing at a faster rate everyday, which is so awesome to watch and be a part of.
How was Bowl Babes created?
I was tired of being the only girl at my local skate park! The only girls I knew went to girls nights, but not enough come down on regular days – so Bowl Babes was born to try to encourage girls to skate with boys – not exclusively at girls nights.
You also sing and model? A triple threat! What do you hope to accomplish with skateboarding, music, and modeling?
Haha, thank you so much! Well, modelling was never part of my original plan, but I was given the opportunity to try and it turns out I really enjoy it. So I’m just letting that journey happen. Music has always been a massive passion of mine and I use both skating and music as a big source of therapy. I don’t think I’d be alive with out both of them, but music remains my first and most natural passion.
Are there any stereotypes or pre-conceived notions you face, being a female skater, or just a girl in general? And how do you break those?
I think a lot of girls are expected to be more masculine as a skater and I can see why – it’s considered selling out or bad to be feminine and girly while you skate. A lot of people don’t understand skating in make up or a skirt etc, but I encourage it! YOU CAN BE GIRLY AND SKATE! You don’t have to become an absolute tom boy.
What advice do you have for other girls looking to take up skateboarding, or any other “male dominated” area, and prove they’re just as good & just as powerful as any man?
I don’t care if you think you’re shit, or not as good as the boys – you deserve your time skating, or anything else, just as much as they do! My best advice is to pretend they don’t exist and just do you. You’re there for yourself, not for the boys. Don’t let ’em break your confidence and they’ll tend to respect you for that.
How do you suggest we break down these walls of gender stereotypes?
I think there’s so many stereotypes for both boys and girls in skating – especially for guys in the LGBTQ community. I find it’s easier to be a gay woman than a gay man in skating. It’s like people expect you to be gay if you skate as a girl, but boys are still held to this concept they have to be manly to skate.
That’s why I’ve started Bowl Babes – it’s for boys as well. It’s about not being afraid to be yourself. DON’T SEGREGATE YOURSELF! The only way to beat this is to skate and be with everyone. Don’t let the fear win, and enjoy yourself.
Finally, what’s your “Let’s Get Shit Done” playlist? What songs empower you and push you to try harder, love yourself, and start a revolution?
I have a MASSIVE, MASSIVE love for 80s tunes. I won’t lie, some of my favourites at the moment are Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, Man Eater, and any other song written by Daryl Hall & John Oates, Redbone, Electric Light Orchestra, etc.
But I also have a massive love for metal and rock n’ roll, so Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden etc. AND, when I need an uplifting feminist moment, Girli and MIA are my go to for sure.
Huge thanks to Aimee for taking the time to talk with us.
This one’s for the girls.