GRLSWIRL empowers women through skateboarding

In our Chosen Family series, in partnership with Kalo, In The Know spotlights small but strong communities that are united by a shared passion.

Lucy Osinski felt a powerful rush the first time she stepped onto a skateboard, and the former pro ballerina was eager to find other girls who felt — or wanted to feel — that power, too.

“I started just like chasing down girls if I saw them on skateboards,” Osinski recalls. Then after a few months, she said to them, “‘Let’s all get together and skate.'”

And what kicked off as a way to connect with other femme skaters has since become a full-fledged movement. Osinski had found her crew — her “chosen family” — and in 2018 created and co-founded GRLSWIRL, an all-female skate sisterhood in Venice Beach, California.

GRLSWIRL isn’t just about skating, though. It’s also about inclusion — for all women. In fact, Osinski decided to ditch the “i” in “girl” to welcome those who identify more broadly on the spectrum of womanhood.

For Osinski, GRLSWIRL is a “sisterhood made up not only of women, but of queer, trans, and all walks that identify with women.” That sentiment even appears in the name itself, inspired by Osinski’s vision of girls swirling, like ice cream — as she says, “different colors swirling together.”

Skating beyond SoCal

Ultimately, GRLSWIRL is a safe space to uplift and inspire other women, and that message didn’t just stay in the sandy skate parks of Southern California. That femme-friendly message has spread, like ice cream in summer, across the country and even around the world.

Kristen, a New York-based member of GRLSWIRL NYC, was more than ready to be a part of that expansion.

“There really weren’t that many girls at the skate park, and that’s where I was trying to learn,” she explains. Kristen adds that she’s known Osinski since college and wanted to grow the community in an organic way.

The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with new leaders building communities not only in Brooklyn but also as far away as Italy.

“It’s really scary to get outside of your comfort zone,” admits a skater named Windle, who’s also the New York City co-chapter leader. “Showing up and taking that leap of faith has so much more reward in the end.”

That reward includes connection, empowerment and community. And rather than tearing each other down — something that Osinski says girls are routinely taught to do — GRLSWIRL is all about boosting confidence.

“Girls don’t have to work against each other. We can work with each other,” she says. “We could change the world by working together.”

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