It's 2021 and I'm Still Yelling About Representation
Column and Photos By Charlotte Harris, Senior Design Associate at Coalition Snow
After a hard fucking year of loss, loneliness, and isolation, It’s Tits! was the healing everyone needed. All humans invited brought with them each day their snowboards, shovels, and stoke—every grab, spin, and new trick did not go without their earned yews and yips. It’s Tits!, started by Snowboy Productions’ brainchild, Krush Kulesza in partnership with B4BC (Boarding 4 Breast Cancer), Jess Kimura, and Olympian Barrett Christy-Cummins in 2018, is the female and non-binary event comprised of sessioning a giant skatepark made out of snow. It’s debut took place at Boreal after years of being turned away by resort after resort, squeamish over the name, and has since found permanent residence at Timberline Lodge.
No one shows up better than female riders supporting other female riders. Affinity spaces have been proven to push progression, foster mentorship, and create inclusive spaces for learning—It’s Tits! is a shining example of this. In a sport where women and non-binary people are consistently paid less, represented less, and frequently left uninvited, they’re telling the world to put up or fuck off and creating their own community of support.
When I was younger, I frequently felt that my relationship with snowboarding was unrequited love—despite how it made me feel when I reached flow state, and how fucking good I was at it, it never loved me back, it never accepted me. Instead, I regularly had doors shut in my face, I was left out of conversations, I was left out of marketing, and I never saw myself reflected on TV, since women’s events were never primetime.
It really wasn’t until the Internet matured that I began seeing snowboarders who looked like me on social media platforms. All anyone needs to do these days is look to Instagram comments to know that this circle of advocating for one another transcends quarantine. Being in this space was transformative. To witness the love and compassion on Instagram for so long and then to be completely immersed in it was beyond what I could to put into words here. As one of the photographers, I never even wanted to strap my board on to ride because being a spectator, a storyteller, was doing more for my heart than riding could in that moment. This time spent on snow together at last was a celebration of resilience. Not only for surviving a pandemic, but also to remind each other and the rest of the community that we’re here, we love snowboarding, and we’re done sitting on the sidelines waiting to be noticed.
While the participants were eager and more than happy to share the love of their peers, the collective marketing department of Snowboarding as a whole told a slightly different story. Holy Bowly is a similar snow-park event that takes place two weeks before It’s Tits!. Produced by Krush and Snowboy as well, it’s participants are also invite-only, but can be any gender. This six-day event dominated my Instagram feed for its entirety.
Both media and sponsors alike averaged two more posts for Holy Bowly (HB) than It’s Tits! (IT). One sponsor didn’t even post the event on their social, period. One brand who sponsored neither HB nor IT had a whopping 12-to-4 ratio of coverage, including more than one post of the same male rider at HB. Another had a ratio of 9 to 1 HB. One media company posted six times (with enthusiasm!) about Holy Bowly, while only pushing out two (low effort) posts about It’s Tits!.
When asked about it, their response was that they had less people at IT, therefore, slower and less coverage. We all understand why that’s worse right? Even the park that built the course hyped Howly Bowly six times vs. one post for It’s Tits!. It’s Tits! flew under the radar to the extent that even though IT went on directly after HB, I had people (and still have them) asking me in the lodge ‘if the Holy Bowly course was still open.’
This didn’t go unnoticed by the participants, with several taking to their Instagram accounts to call out brands and media directly or indirectly throwing shade. Many noticed the difference in what their feeds looked like during Holy Bowly compared to It’s Tits, and how men’s content frequently drowns out women’s content, and many making the excuse that there’s less women, less interest, and less content.
Historically, women and non-binary folks are undersponsored in the first place, creating barriers to success and representation within the industry. The majority of brands and media will typically post between 7-10 pictures or videos of men to every one of a female rider. The problem is systemic. And when men, women, and non-binary folks see only one type of rider, we engrain further the status quo.
But after seeing the success of an underground network of women warning women about abusers with the #metoo movement, I believe we’ll see that truth to power leak out into every sphere. I simultaneously can’t believe, and yet am not surprised, that it’s 2021 and I’m still having to talk about representation in this sport that I call home. What inspires me and keeps my hope alive is getting to commune with the rest of the uninvited in our own space, both virtually and on snow; witness them yell about injustice and support one another; and watch them continue to carve out their own space in the park, in the backcountry, and in the world.