Skate shorts worn by Cindy Whitehead

Skate shorts worn by Cindy Whitehead

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Description (Brief)
Padded skate shorts worn by professional female skateboarder, Cindy Whitehead while a member of the Sims skateboard team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There is a snap waist and the user had to take the waist in with fabric darts as these were originally shorts for boys. In the early 1980s, skate clothing was not available for women so the few female pro skaters had to modify mens or boys clothing to fit. Cindy Whitehead was quite a bit smaller than the boy skaters and therefore had to adapt the boys clothes to fit her body. Whitehead was one of the few female vert skaters of the day and was the only woman on the Sims team at the time.
Whitehead began skateboarding at age 15 and had turned pro by the time she was 17, something girls were not doing in the mid-1970s. She became one of the only girls skating both pool and half pipe and is the only girl ever to be featured in a two page article with a centerfold in a skateboarding magazine. Whitehead retired from skateboarding at 22 but still skates and has remained in the sports arena as a sport stylist, a job title she also created. Whitehead is especially supportive of young female skaters through her “Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word” skate team and her products which are geared towards women and girls. Whitehead’s signature phrase printed in gold on many of the “Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word” products personifies her independent spirit, "Live life balls to the wall. Do epic shit. Take every dare that comes your way. You can sleep when you’re dead."
Description
Since the 1960s, girls have embraced skateboarding to showcase athleticism, freedom of movement, and daring behavior that has earned them accolades. They fashioned unique clothing styles and asserted their self-empowerment in a male-dominated sport. Cindy Whitehead, one of the few female vert skaters of the day and the only woman on the Sims skateboard team, wore this uniform in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Whitehead turned pro at 16 and was the only girl ever to be featured in a two-page article with a centerfold in a skateboarding magazine until recently.
The mesh jersey was modeled after motocross jerseys and, although it was hot to wear in the California sun, the heavier material afforded some protection from scrapes and road rash due to falls. The shorts have a slightly scalloped hemline for ease of movement and a snap and zipper front closure because they were a “boys’ product.” Skate clothing was not specifically made for girls or women until the 1990s, and the few female pro skaters often had to modify men’s or boy’s clothing to fit their bodies. Whitehead added darts to the back waistband with a needle and thread to make the shorts fit her small waist.
Whitehead retired from skateboarding in 1984 at the age of 22 but has remained active in the sport with her 'Girl Is Not A 4 Letter Word' brand and clothing line that meets the demands of a rise in female participation in skateboarding.
Object Name
shorts, skateboarding
skate shorts
date made
1970s
1978
used date
1978-1981
user
Whitehead, Cindy
Physical Description
fabric, nylon (overall material)
fabric, canvas (overall material)
Measurements
overall, flat: 12 in x 15 in; 30.48 cm x 38.1 cm
ID Number
2013.0165.02
accession number
2013.0165
catalog number
2013.0165.02
subject
skateboarding
Sports
Professional
Women
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Exhibition
Girlhood
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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