To Balance is Trust

Shining the light on the faces of female and non-binary skateboarders

Feature type Story

Read time 12 min read

Published Aug 13, 2021

Author Hannah Bailey

Photographer Hannah Bailey

Hannah Bailey
Hannah Bailey Hannah is an award-winning photographer and journalist who works tirelessly to shine the spotlight on women in action sports. She shows the real faces, telling genuine stories of those involved in the niche culture to inspire others to get involved and society as a whole.

Inspired by the diverse faces and underground culture of the scene, Hannah Bailey has been photographing women’s skating around the world for over 10 years. It has been her mission to question society’s perception of gender in sport and challenge how women are represented in the media through her images of skateboarding and portraits of skaters. In March 2020 Hannah won the inaugural Getty Images #ShowUs photography grant with the project ‘To Balance is Trust’, which aims to look beyond stereotypes, to shine the light on the faces of women, non-binary and female-identifying skaters, and support them to tell their stories.

As the inclusion of skateboarding in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic will for many people provide their first exposure to the sport, To Balance is Trust seeks to intercept the competitive and controlled media portrayal of this international subculture. Instead, the photo series seeks to place the narrative back in the hands of skateboarders through portraits and stories, and to shine the light on the real faces of female and non-binary skateboarders, to show us what skateboarding means to them.

The series travels to the home of the Olympics, Athens, Greece to meet with Denia Kopita, a talented skater and online manager of diversity skate magazine Skateism. It travels to Haverfordwest, Wales, to meet WCMX champion Lily Rice who is pushing to make skateparks more accessible. And it features skaters part of the Melanin Skate Gals and Pals crew who are working to empower the BIPOC community to skate and be seen. As well as young Scottish skaters, Rudi and Mac, and professional London-based skateboarder, Helena Long. All these skaters and riders are pushing the lesser-seen side of skateboarding in order to make it more accessible to all, to show it is something for everyone.

To Balance is Trust aims to enlarge the visibility of the niche and underground side of this subculture, which exists all around the world, from South Korea to Scotland,” explains photographer Hannah Bailey. “By doing this, I aim to champion these inspirational, underexposed skateboarders as role models for people to be inspired by and society to learn from.”

You can find the full photo series, along with the stories of each of the personalities, here.

Amy Lombard-Dunbar is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the co-founder of the non-binary and queer skate crew, the Skate Boobs.

Amy Lombard-Dunbar is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the co-founder of the non-binary and queer skate crew, the Skate Boobs.

Skateboarding has given me so much confidence in such a short period of time and confidence in a way that has allowed me to discover and explore parts of myself I never had before

Denia Kopita is a hugely talented and technical skateboarder based in Athens, Greece. She is the online manager of the diversity skate magazine, Skateism, and volunteers for Free Movement Skateboarding, an NGO which works with refugees and at-risk youth in the city.

Denia Kopita is a hugely talented and technical skateboarder based in Athens, Greece. She is the online manager of the diversity skate magazine, Skateism, and volunteers for Free Movement Skateboarding, an NGO which works with refugees and at-risk youth in the city.

Emily Rothney is a young skateboarder and snowboarder based in the Highlands of Scotland.

Emily Rothney is a young skateboarder and snowboarder based in the Highlands of Scotland.

Maz Mayassi is the co-founder of Melanin Skate Gals and Pals, a black-led/BIPOC and queer skate crew.

Maz Mayassi is the co-founder of Melanin Skate Gals and Pals, a black-led/BIPOC and queer skate crew.

Helena Long is a professional skateboarder from London, UK. She also works at Somerset House and recently put on a show there

Helena Long is a professional skateboarder from London, UK. She also works at Somerset House and recently put on a show there “No Comply” celebrating skateboarding.

Yuri Murai from Japan, is a passionate skateboard videographer who has been documenting the women's street skateboarding scene in Japan for over a decade. With three feature length films under the name, Joy and Sorrow.

Yuri Murai from Japan, is a passionate skateboard videographer who has been documenting the women’s street skateboarding scene in Japan for over a decade. With three feature length films under the name, Joy and Sorrow.

Skateboarding is part of life. Even if you aren’t skateboarding, you’re always thinking about skateboarding, like walking around the city, looking at it like a skatepark

It doesn’t matter how good you are at skateboarding, just that you have fun

Christana lives in East London, UK and is part of the Melanin Skate Gals and Pals. She skates here at Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford.

Christana lives in East London, UK and is part of the Melanin Skate Gals and Pals. She skates here at Queen Elizabeth Park, Stratford.

Mac Morrice is part of the Snaggle Rats crew, who encourage more young people in Scotland to take up skating regardless of gender. She is also an ambassador for the charity, Skateboards for Hope.

Mac Morrice is part of the Snaggle Rats crew, who encourage more young people in Scotland to take up skating regardless of gender. She is also an ambassador for the charity, Skateboards for Hope.

Yuri Lee is a nurse and known local skater in South Korea. She travelled to be part of The Skate Exchange, and event bringing female skaters together in Japan in 2018.

Yuri Lee is a nurse and known local skater in South Korea. She travelled to be part of The Skate Exchange, and event bringing female skaters together in Japan in 2018.

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