Watch These Pollera-Wearing Bolivian Skateboarders Pay Homage to Cholitas With Every Kickflip
While skateboarding is still oftentimes associated exclusively with men, a group of nine Bolivian women has set out to change that creating a skateboarding group called ImillaSkate that is making people’s preconceived notions do a full 180.
Hailing from Cochabamba, Bolivia, and self-described as “daughters and granddaughters” of Bolivian cholitas, the women from ImillaSkate shared with Samsung’s Voices of Galaxy video series that the collective was founded back in 2019 when they began to bond over their shared love of skateboarding and created the group to embrace their “cultural identity.”
That’s where the polleras came in. As shown on their Instagram page, the 9 women typically wear these skirts traditionally worn by indigenous Bolivian women and it has become an unmistakable element of ImillaSkate’s ethos and brand that proudly pays tribute to the skateboarders’ roots.
While the garments may have once been an identifier to subjugate those who wore them, this group is turning that on its head and making the narrative their own.
Imilla means “young girl” in Aymara and Quechua and as one of the group’s members explained, their goal with the collective is “to change the perspective of what the Bolivian chola is” and “to encourage people to respect and admire them more.”
Apart from the polleras, they also wear braids in their hair, all for the purpose of sending out “a message of inclusion.”
When they first got started skateboarding, the group “saw a lot of guys skateboarding in the streets” and online, but barely any women. They immediately knew they had to do something to change that while also lifting up their own culture for the whole world to see.
As shown on both their Instagram and TikTok pages, the women often ride out on the streets together, skateboarding through la Cancha marketplace, and doing all kinds of aerials and kick flips at skate parks.
The skaters explained that technology and social media have helped them connect with other women interested in the sport and spread their empowering message, teaching others all around the world about their culture and their favorite sport and motivating them to give it a try.
In fact, their Instagram is full of heartwarming photos showing members of the group teaching girls and women how to skateboard at a park in La Paz, inspiring them through a sport they might not have had access to otherwise.
They explain that they know they are “accomplishing a change in society” through ImillaSkate, helping other women see they can skate just like them.