Life is a Circus

Imilla Skate

“ I like to skate because it makes me feel free, it reminds me that I can overcome many things and most of all, my failures. Because it fills my heart, it gives me feelings, security, it is a moment of freedom, mental and emotional peace.” Huara Medina Montaño

We’re inspired by a group of women athletes in Bolivia who are fighting discrimination by wearing ancestral dress - and riding skateboards. They call themselves Imilla Skate, and they dress in the traditional attire worn by indigenous Aymara and Quechua women in the countryside around Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third largest city.

The attire - polleras - is traditionally worn by indigenous women called “cholitas.” The skateboarding women of Imilla Skate opted to wear polleras in hommage to the generations of cholitas who preceded them - too often the victim of discrimination as both women and members of the indigenous community. The members of Imilla Skate proudly wear this clothing today as a way to co-opt and subvert negative associations of the past. From their perspective, polleras are symbols of strength and power (cholita women were often, traditionally, the heads of their households.)

The word “imalla” means "young girl" in Aymara and Quechua, the two most widely spoken Native languages in Bolivia. Imilla Skate was founded by Daniela Santiváñez, a Designer, and two friends. The group now includes nine skaters.

Instagram: @imillasskates

Their skill as skate-boarders place the cholitas of Imilla Skate thoroughly at the forefront of the modern age, as they demonstrate strength, balance, daring, and artistry. They are a living demonstration that mujeres de polleras [pollera wearers] can do anything.

You liked it? WATCH the series. Enjoy!

Keep reading