Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines a light on Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word founder Cindy Whitehead.
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I was a pro vert skateboarder in the ’70s and skated Marina and the streets of Venice with my guy friends in the PM after the park closed for the night. I briefly rode for Z-Flex and turned pro at the Winchester, CA contest – which was the first contest they sent me to as a team rider. I came in 3rd in the women’s pro division. I now have an organization called Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word that focuses on giving girls and womxn in skateboarding opportunities, funding and recognition. I am also the co-chair of the Venice Ladies Jam with my good friend Heidi Lemmon.
I was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2016 with an intro by my rad friend, Joan Jett. My past and current skate history resides in The Smithsonian Museum of American History’s Sports Collections in Washington, D.C.
Tell us about the work your organization does and the programs you run?
We run a website that updates all things relating to girls and women’s skateboarding daily – everything from local contest results, to the path to the Olympics and everything in between – new shoe launches from female pro skaters, skate parts that have dropped and much more. We also have social media channels that update everything relating to female skaters.
We have a collab skateboard line with Dwindle/Dusters California, a collab helmet with S1 Helmets and an in house line of apparel all geared for the female skateboarder. We launched the first comprehensive hardback book on women’s skateboarding “It’s Not About Pretty” in 2017 and published the book Concrete Girls for UK based photographer and skater Charlotte Thomas in 2019.
Proceeds from our collabs and other endeavors, go back into women’s skateboarding.
How long in business, and how did you get started? Where did the idea or inspiration come from?
We have had Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word up and running since 2013. I started looking at where women’s skateboarding was compared to when I skated in the ’70s/early 80s, and was sad to see that in 2013 not a lot had changed. The name of my org came from being told things like “Damn, you’re really good… for a GIRL” and hearing things growing up where guys would put other guys down by saying things like “you throw like a girl.” That means people are still using the word GIRL as a put down, and using someone’s gender in a derogatory way, is just as bad as many 4 letter cuss words we are taught not to hurl at people. I decided that if girls could see other women succeeding at skateboarding, and they knew other girls were out there ripping – they wouldn’t feel so alone – even if they might be the only one at their local park.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being able to financially help 3 of the USA National Women’s Park Skateboarding Team as they head towards their goal of competing at the Olympics this year. Being asked to do a TEDx and ESPNW talk on “Rule Breaking, Disruption & Starting a Revolution” which is something I think every little girl should learn 🙂 But when I get DM’s or texts from girls or their moms saying what we are doing helps – that makes me know it’s still needed and helping. And last but not least – being co-chair of the Venice Ladies Jam since it’s inception – that event brings girls and womxn from all over to skate and have a really fun day – from little tiny girls to women 50+ – so awesome to see that!
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?
“We have pulled back on skatepark “get togethers” of course, but we have ramped up visual content through social media and have written and shot stories for Los Angeles Magazine and Los Angeleno Magazine showing how the girls took it back to DIY and skateboarding’s roots when the parks were closed.
We helped organize a BLM Skate Protest on June 14, it started at Venice High School and there were quite a few amazing speakers (including old school pro skater Feddie De Sota) speaking about how things need to change NOW. It was great to see so many families show up to listen and learn. Then everyone took to the streets with BLM signs and skated down to Venice Skatepark for a group skate session. Since we had so much down time due to quarantine, we found a great partner and are working on a new collab that we feel will really infuse even more money and attention into girls skateboarding – more on that when it launches soon!”
What support do you need? How can one help your organization?
The more people love our products the more funds we have to help – so please check our online site – you get quality products that help girls in skateboarding. We also would love it if people followed us via our website and social channels – we publish different content on all formats! If you see us in person or at an event, ask for one of our stickers – we love seeing the support out there on your skateboard or helmet.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, upcoming events,, etc.
Keep an eye out for the rescheduled date of the Venice Ladies Jam – you don’t want to miss this event! If you are over 25 years old please make sure you sign up for the OG Jam series – it’s really fun and all the women are super nice that compete in it! These events are about meeting other female skaters and having fun – which is what skateboarding is all about.
Being able to use your past accomplishments and know how to help further the next generation. Because they are the future.
What is the best advice you have received:
The answer is always NO, if you don’t ask.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
My personal mantra is:
- Live life balls to the wall.
- Do epic shit.
- Take every dare that comes your way.
- You can sleep when you’re dead.
It’s printed on our apparel and skateboards.
Favorite book, band or movie?
- Music: Joan Jett
- Book: female athlete and female musician biographies
- Movie: Bombshell
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments.
I work as a wardrobe stylist for pro and Olympic athletes for companies like, Adidas, Gatorade, Nike, Asics, etc.
At 9 years old, I lived and traveled for over a year in a VW van with my mom and brother throughout Mexico and Guatemala.
I skateboarded down the 405 fwy during Carmageddon ll and escaped being caught.
Venice is a wonderful community with so many different types of people living there and visiting. The skatepark is second to none and that was accomplished by the hard work of the people who live in Venice. You can go from walking the canals and fifteen minutes later be watching roller skaters on Windward and skateboarders at the skatepark. The beach is beautiful and the bike path goes for miles. You can shop in upscale shops or via venders on the boardwalk – the choice is yours. There is always something to see or do – day or night. I love that a lot of the same cottages I grew up with are still there, and that locals fight to keep Venice, Venice.
What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?
Watch the skaters via the web cam skate at the skatepark – and in person. Outdoor dining on Abbot Kinney. Bike rides and long skates down towards Santa Monica.
What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience?
Meeting female skaters from other parts of the world randomly at Venice Skatepark – it is a first stop for skateboarders when arriving at LAX and it’s fun when they know what our organization does because we already each other on instagram and then we meet just happen to meet in person!
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say?
I have been skating in Venice since 1975, and it has never lost its soul! Still the same great place and people, even now.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?
How can one find you?
- Website: girlisnota4letterword.com
- Twitter: twitter.com/GirlisNOTa4LW
- Instagram: instagram.com/girlisnota4letterword
- Facebook: facebook.com/GirlisNotA4LetterWord
- LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sportsstylist
- Other Website: shopgirlisnota4letterword.com
- Email: [email protected]