There’s nothing as empowering as doing something you didn’t know you could do. Myriah and her crew are encouraging more women to conquer their fears, and skate.
Myriah Marquez | Skater and Mentor | Los Angeles, US
By a lot of measurements, Myriah Marquez wasn’t cut out to be a skater. She was a girl in a small Southern town. The only skateboarding she saw was on MTV. And when she was eleven, she was diagnosed with a physically debilitating illness.
The sickness turned her life upside down. Myriah was constantly at the hospital, and when treatments caused her to rapidly gain weight, she became a target for bullies at school. Longing for an escape, her mind drifted to the skating she saw on TV, and the freedom that seemed to come with it. As soon as she was able, Myriah found a skateboard, and took off. What she discovered surprised even her.
It was a lonely hobby at first. “I was the only girl that skated in my town…at least that I knew of. I got told, ‘what do you think you look like…skating with boys all night?” Myriah recalls. Yet, even with the lack of support, Myriah had found something special, even restorative, in skating. She explains, “when I get on my skateboard, all my ailments fade away. I don’t say that to be cliché. I truly mean that. My spasms stop, my thoughts stop, my pain stops and I’m just there—present.” What started as an escape from bullying and pain became a lifelong wellness practice.
“With skateboarding there are many milestones—from the tiniest moments to the biggest fears being overcome.”
Myriah’s story of skating success isn’t about her determinedly shredding her way to the X-Games or landing an insane sports sponsorship by highschool graduation. “I quite honestly did not know where my life was headed, or even what I wanted my career to be.” Yet, skating was taking her places. After a few years of skating around the West Coast, Myriah set her sights on Venice, California—the birthplace of the sport.
As someone with a chronic illness, Myriah is no stranger to life’s twists and turns; she’s learned to roll with it, day by day. She describes her early days in Venice: “I had a ‘getcha by’ job lined up and was going from there with sheer faith.” Fate delivered. Myriah hit the skate park, and to her surprise, immediately found a small group of women who took her in. “I met [them] on my sixth day here…serendipity I say…instantly, I felt so much love and support.” Skating had been such a solitary practice for Myriah. Now here she was, finding people who shared her passion for skating—who, like her, had fought to find their places in an often exclusive and male-dominated scene.
The tight-knit crew grew and grew, as Myriah and her friends invited more women to come skate with them. Out of their bond, grew a common goal: to make space for even more women in the skating scene. So in 2018, Myriah and friends founded GRLSWIRL, a grassroots skate collective devoted to empowering “womxn to get on skateboards in what can often seem like an intimidating sport.” While GRLSWIRL is known for its monthly skate meets and coaching events, the collective’s purpose is much bigger than the sport. Myriah says it’s “a response to being told you can’t do something. It’s a response to wanting to feel included and important and part of a culture and community.” To Myriah, and her friends, skating is just one way to impart the joy and empowerment of learning something new.
From a crew of nine, to a multi-city movement of 52,000 members—and counting—GRLSWIRL has come a long way. But Myriah feels like there’s still more ground to cover. “We’re very fortunate to be in Venice where it (women in the skating scene) is kind of normal. But in other cities…it’s not accepted at all for a woman to stand in front of a man, and much less, be on a board. And that just isn’t okay. If they want to, they should be able to.”
For Myriah, it’s all a matter of inclusivity. She makes it clear that GRLSWIRL isn’t on a mission to bash male skaters: “Males are our allies. You can’t do anything without unity. They’re so supportive and encouraging as well.” For Myriah and crew, the challenge is breaking down the stereotypes and perceptions that keep anyone from skating.
It’s proving that “you don’t have to be a badass shredder, or even a certain ‘type’ of womxn to get on a board and learn something new.” It’s using social media to build connections, rather than a “scroll hole” of comparison. And, it’s “creating a safe space for [people] to get out of their comfort zones, ask questions,” and yes…“fall a little.”
To the world at large:
You hear (the phrase) “live like there is no tomorrow”…if you were to have your last day how would you spend that day? How would you spend your time and how would you want to feel? Be fearless.
To women who want to skate:
YES! GO GO GO! YOU GOT THIS, DON’T CARE WHAT OTHERS SAY OR THINK, BE KIND, BE COURAGEOUS AND ENCOURAGING. (Caps was not an accident, I am literally cheering you on!)
To the women of the world:
YOU ARE FIERCE , WE ARE LIGHT AND LOVE, WE ARE POWERFUL. Through UNITY and LOVE all things are truly possible. You inspire me, you encourage me and I SEE YOU! Your story and emotions are valid, use those experiences to empower others!