Beauty Secrets of a Cuban Skater Girl

There used to be one unofficial mandate within Cuba’s skateboarding community: Boys only. Today, a new wave of feminists is breaking boundaries, kicking and pushing their way into Havana’s skate parks—and chucking the deuces to traditional beauty rules while they’re at it.

Pile on the accessories and try an unconventional lip or hair color. Or, opt for a more permanent statement-maker—say, a visible tattoo or facial piercing—and sure, you’re well on your way to mastering skater-girl style. Yet for many women in Havana, simply showing up to the skate park with a board in-hand is a wow-factor in itself.

“On my first trip to Cuba, I can’t remember seeing a single female skater,” says Lauren Bradley, co-founder and director of operations at Cuba Skate, an organization that supports Cuba’s skateboarding culture. “Mostly just the girlfriends of the skateboarders would hang around on occasion.” Since that trip six years ago, Bradley has noticed an impressive increase in the number of female skaters in Havana. “In a country where the machismo mindset is still very much alive, it’s awesome to see girls infiltrate a male-dominated sport and ride alongside the guys as equals.”

And while in pursuit of equality on the ramps, female skaters embrace their femininity through inimitable beauty sensibilities. “Girls take a style that’s geared toward guys and make it their own. Instead of punk, dark eyeliner, they’ll often wear bright blue or purple liner. Anything to make themselves stand out.”