India’s 1st Pro Female Skater Atita Verghese Teaches Young Girls To Skate To Defy Social Taboos


Someone should get in touch with Avril Lavigne and tell her it’s time to re-write her famous 2002 hit ‘Sk8er Boi’, because we’re pretty sure after reading this story about India’s first pro female skater Atita Verghese, she won’t even think twice!

In a country that is more synonymous with traditional culture, conservatism, and women not pushing against the social norms, Atita Verghese is a breath of fresh and and is determined to lead a whole generation of other young women in her wake as she skates her way through a social revolution.

She is India’s most prominent female skateboarder and began grinding the rails at age 19 in Goa. She has been a pro for nearly 3 years and today she trains many of Bangalore’s budding skaters. It wasn’t always easy being the only girl in a very male-dominated sport, let alone in a country where there are certain expectations placed on women as they grow up.

In a recent TEDx Talk that she gave (video below) Atita says she was always considered the “black sheep” of her community and was constantly getting in trouble. It was from her mother that she inherited her rebellious streak. Her mother was always into Western fashion and proudly used it as a form of self expression much to the disdain of those around her.

Atita’s mother sadly became an acid attack victim, a crime that is overwhelmingly aimed at women in order to keep them from breaking away from the gender expectations. It wasn’t just about rebelling against the social norms, it was also a way to challenge the way gender violence has been allowed to go unchecked and unaccounted for for many years.


In the video below, Atita says nearly every young woman she knows has experienced some form of non-consensual sexual attack, which the rest of the world is finally waking up to in the wake of the new of the horrific gang rape of a Delhi girl in 2012 by the hands of men who did not think she should’ve been socializing out in public with a young man who wasn’t her husband or brother.

In school, Atita said she found it hard to concentrate, so she would often act out, but it was nothing different from what the boys in her class would do. However, because she was a girl, this became a problem to her teachers.

“This is something the more mischievous boys in class would do as well, but since I was a girl acting out this way, it was noticed and even punished more. As the tremendously sexist saying goes, ‘Boys will be boys’, right? It doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, you might think. But what happens when the same saying is applied to rape culture and other forms of oppression toward women?” she asked.

A statistic shared by the United Nations from 2007 states that up to 200 million women have gone missing around the world. Atita says this is the most shocking crime against humanity.


“We have to allow [partnerships] between all genders to exist harmoniously and find a solution for this self-destructive world that we live in. The idea of locking women up and covering them up is not a solution, it is part of of the problem. We must really investigate and play close attention to how we raise our boys, and start with them first,” she says.

After high school, because her family did not have enough money to send her to college, Atita decided to take a year off and try new things. This was when she discovered skateboarding and quickly found she was learning more from being involved in the sport than she ever did in school.

Little did she know, skateboarding would also become the activity that would enable her to see the world and inspire many more young girls to think outside the box. Today, in between shredding in her local skate park or in a different country, she also teams up with organizations to encourage girls to learn how to skate and build their own ramps!

Atita says the skate parks she visits and helps build become a safe haven where stereotypes surrounding gender, sexuality and other taboos do not matter. Along with the emphasis on skating, Atita and her crew teach young kids math, English, photography, art etc. She describes her role as now more of social worker, because of the way they were now seen by local neighborhoods who would donate and encourage Atita and her crew to continue helping the children.


What started with a passion for skating and wanting to do life on her own terms, has become a valuable empowering tool for girls in boys who she comes in contact with to think differently about the world and find a way to make positive change in their communities.

“There is something inherently wrong with the way in which society has conditioned our idea of femininity. The misconception here is that one needs to be meek in order to be feminine. Consequently, girls grow up to be very conscious of their bodies. Young girls need to understand that you can be strong, get on the skateboard, and go home and wear nail polish, all at the same time,” she told The Hindu.

“Our societal structure is such that, once a girl hits puberty, it is considered inappropriate for her to be seen jumping around outside. Generation after generation of female oppression has resulted in women lagging behind physically. Girls tend to be hesitant and often shy about falling while learning. It becomes necessary to hold their hands, show them what is possible and get them involved in the alternate sub-culture that is evolving in cities such as Bangalore,” she added.

Atita spearheads an organization called Girls Skate India in 2014, and hosted a tour featuring 12 other girls from around the world, traveling across India teaching other young girls how to skate and build ramps. Girls Skate India is the first and largest platform to feature, connect and increase the number of female skateboarders in the country and they are mostly self-funded.


The tour was also made into a film and has been showing around the world to promote what Girls Skate India are doing, and the impact it is having on Indian girls’ lives. If there is something we can all learn from Atita and her Holy Stoked crew, is that no matter where you come from and what kind of life you life today, you have the chance to make a difference in the world, even if it is with something as common as skateboarding.

“I truly believe there is a female revolution happening in skateboarding right now and the fight is what will push us to achieve more to realize what we are capable of,” said Atita.

Take a look at her TEDx Talk below, and be sure to check out what Atita and the Girl Skate India crew are doing by visiting the Facebook page.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: INDIAN WOMEN SKATERS-SMASHING STEREOTYPES -3 | Indian Women Revolution Movement

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