Canadian skateboarder Natalie Porter is archiving the history of women’s skating online, one unsung heroine at a time. With hundreds of entries made since its digital inception in March of 2022, Porter’s website and its accompanying Instagram account are educating skaters, feminists, and history buffs alike about the achievements of women and nonbinary skaters from the 1960s through today. And with over 25 years of skateboarding experience under her belt and a thesis on the subject to boot, Porter is the perfect person to be doing this important work.
“Like any history, [skateboarding] tends to still favor the dominant voices—and that isn’t always the whole picture,” Porter says. “There is a world of skaters to celebrate. Every single country has some pivotal female skater and I just want to bring attention to each one.”
While skateboarding has changed over the years, with more diverse identities now able to find community in the culture (see: @black_girls_skate), so, too, have the methods of accessing and sharing information—which is why an online archive like Womxn Skateboard History, and librarians like Porter, are so important.
But getting the goods on the female skaters of yesteryear isn’t always easy. “I’ll be looking at contest results from the ’70s and realize a woman’s name is misspelled or her name has changed,” says Porter. “So, I’ll connect the dots and do an Instagram post, and usually someone has a lead.”
“Everyday I’m learning about someone new, or some new part of history, and it fuels me as a librarian,” Porter continues. “I’m fascinated by people and their stories, but I also depend on people being part of the community and wanting to share. That’s how we keep feminist histories alive, by being open with each other and celebrating together.”
Top photo courtesy of Natalie Porter.
This article originally appeared in BUST's Winter 2022-2023 print edition. Subscribe today!