Skate or lie
Yeah, I’ll admit it: I’m a fu*#!ng poser. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but I do know by middle school I was already well versed in the art of faking it, skillfully transforming from a comic-book-arts-nerd to a soccer-sports-jock or a guitar-playing-rocker depending on the geographical and social context I was in at any given moment. My parents divorce meant changing schools and suddenly being part of both a new and very different clique on weekdays, while keeping my old friends on the weekends. And while the general attitude at my old school towards artsy kids was very much accepting – I’d dare say encouraging – I learned very quickly that even hinting at any interest in writing, painting,
Actual skateboarding takes time and commitment. It’s hours and hours of painstaking practice, bloody gushes, and broken bones.
or creating music at my new school was a one-way ticket to Bullyville. It was a sign of weakness and could quickly place you in the general category of being “gay” (as in being a pussy), which translated into getting mercilessly picked on in every conceivable situation. Once in that fold you just could not get out. Climbing the social ladder was theoretically possible but only accessible for the kids already
in the circle – once out, you’re never in. I swore to never end up on the outside, I’d do whatever it took to be accepted.
But there was one group in the social mine field we called “the public school system” that always held carte blanche. No matter the context they seemed untouchable – feared and respected by jocks, gangster-wannabes, and outcasts alike: The Skaters. Perhaps it was the air of unpredictability, the lack of fear and constant display of new cool scars that did it – they just seemed elevated. They all had a natural swag that transcended class, age, and ethnicity. Being the cultural chameleon/leech I was, I took notes.
Fully throwing myself into the skateboarding lifestyle wasn’t really an option though. Actual skateboarding takes time and commitment. It’s hours and hours of painstaking practice, bloody gushes, and broken
bones. Being I had neither the stamina, ability to focus nor pain-threshold to put in the work to become good at anything, I figured I’d just “borrow” a little swag from the skate-community – after all they had an abundance of it. I quickly traded myself a pair of worn in DC-shoes, invested one month’s worth of allowance in a Stüssy tee, swiped a pair of baggy chinos from my dad’s closet and was good to go. The perfect 90’s skater look. Most of the inspiration from the 1995 film classic “Kids”, portraying a bunch of hedonistic teens skating, smoking and fucking their way through New York. The looked awesome.
Back then cultural appropriation wasn’t really a thing. By that I mean the “CA”-term was not known, we were certainly stealing music, art, fashion and anything expressive we could find from all and any ethnic community and subculture available – but it was just called being a “poser”. This could however get you in trouble. You wouldn’t get cancelled (the absence of social media or even internet meant there really wasn’t anywhere to be cancelled from), but if the wrong people caught you in stolen street-valor you could get publicly humiliated or even catch a beating. I would know. Throughout the years I’ve dabbled as a punk-rocker, a jock, a moody grunge-kid, hard rocker, preppy polo-guy, brit pop-dude, wannabe-gangster, meat-eating had core vegan, fashionista, lumberjack-chic, hip-hopper, and hipster. And yes, I have been rightfully called out for it more than once. But somehow, I always got away with the skater-look, as long as no one saw me on an actual skateboard.
Still to this day I steal a lot of my aesthetics from the classic skater style, and I’ll even catch myself talking nostalgically about my youth as a skater. I’ve lied for so long about it; I’m starting to believe it, and it’s a lot easier being a former skater then it was posing as an active one. Thankfully for the likes of me – the doors between subcultures have been kicked in and everybody’s stealing from everyone at this point. This is true for music, film, and fashion, just take what you like and make it yours.