In Carbondale, Colorado on December 9, 2015, a usually testosterone-filled ski shop was filled with the sounds of giggles and girl talk. No Man’s Land Film Festival - an all-female adventure film festival based out of Aspen, Colorado – held their first Ladies’ Night last Wednesday. Carbondale and Aspen are similar to any mountain town. The local demographic consists of scruffy almost-there facial hair, trucker hats, goggle tans, and the faint smell of ski wax - hovering over the town like the promise of a powder day. But hidden behind the swinging barstools and cloud of freshly fallen snow are the girls. The elusive ladies that the media can’t seem to find and that the boys can’t get their hands on. Yes, there will always be the “bunnies,” the ladies in from CU Boulder who rent snowboard boots to cruise town in and have pom poms bigger than their faces. But sneaking behind the glitz and the glam are the girls who shred. On Wednesday, we got those ladies into one room.
In an industry dominated by our male counterparts, it is easy to feel marginalized, or at the very least, like a shadow. You were there when he dropped that 50 footer, you dropped first and spotted the landing. You were also there on that blower powder day and had the sickest pillow line – but no footy? That’s “cute,” but probably didn’t happen. However, the paradigm is shifting. Angel Collinson just won Best Line at the 2015 Powder Awards. Not because she is a woman, but because she is the best. I kingdom for the day when a woman’s success is not an amazing feat because of her gender, but simply because she’s a boss!
At Ladies’ Night, we asked the women to break into groups and discuss aspects of being a woman in the outdoor industry that they appreciated, and challenges that they found. I expected one answer from each team – but no. These ladies went above and beyond, here are our results:
Things we appreciate about being women in the outdoor industry:
1) GIRL FRIENDS
There is nothing like getting into some trouble with the lady-crew. Taking risks and facing challenges inherently strengthens the bond of a group; however, we found that when this group consists solely of females, decisions are made to represent the groups vision more wholly, there is more opportunity for all voices to be heard, and there is an underlying understanding and feeling of support and camaraderie between the participants.
2) BABES + BEER
For too long beer ads have been sold to men, with the sexy lady spilling foam down her chest and putting it in places where beer does not belong. What about us?! We just skied all day and are looking pretty haggard. Happy, but haggard. That’s what happens when you cram your head into a helmet and your face behind goggles and a soggy buff. When I get off the mountain I want a drink, and I’ll be damned if it is not a libation from one of the many local Colorado craft organic/vegan breweries.
Women have an innate draw to take care of those in need. More specifically, women are typically more keen to take younger, less-experienced individuals under their wing and mentor them in their practice. I have been fortunate enough to have witnessed this first hand. I love Randonee racing (dorky, I know). Last week I went to a race and was immediately welcomed into the arms of the best female racers in the nation! One woman literally created a training plan for me on the spot, gave me her information, and said to get in touch after every training session. There are so few of us pushing the envelope, or just eager to get outside and play, that it is wildly important to cultivate these relationships - either as a sage or as a karate kid.
4) GIRL POWER
It’s a thing. It is not the ability to shoot flowers from your finger tips and turn dirt into rainbows, but it is an equally powerful phenomenon. Without the female race, human existence would be obsolete. By simply being women, we have to power to create life – whether that be in the form of a child or radicalizing our own. As amazing as it is, girl power is hard to harness, we get in our own way. We spend so much time breaking each other down and hating on the “bunnies,” we forget to celebrate the powerful and AWESOME times that we can have together if we just let go and lean into our divine feminine.
Things we are challenged by, being women in the outdoor industry:
1) GIRL ON GIRL
We can be so gosh darned competitive. Cut it out! (see GIRL POWER)
2) INTIMIDATION FACTOR
Ok, so you are ready to kick it with the ladies, but you’re nervous and fake a cold on your first outing and end up skiing alone. Powerful women are powerful because they worked for it and it is hard work! Next time you roll up to a lady crew and hear them talking about how yesterday they ran a 4 minute mile, took the kids to school, completed Nolan’s 14 and then made it back in time to help with dinner AND squeeze in a few sun salutations, don’t be afraid. Be inspired! Or, be like me and leave nothing to interpretation and tell them how nervous and excited you are to be around them because you follow their Strava religiously and were their sexy husband’s first follower on Instagram (note to self: don’t follow this with a bow. It makes things weird). If you did bow, have them read this article (see MENTORSHIP).
3) WHAT TO WEAR
Yes, what should I wear? I want to go mountain biking, but all of my windshells are light yellow and I am pretty sure I’ll get muddy. Or, I want to go kayaking, but its warm out, so I don’t want to wear a dry top, but every time I roll my top doesn’t roll with me. Or, I want to go running but I am on my period and the one pocket in my running skirt won’t fit a tampon, plus they are WHITE! Or, I want to go skiing but…I guess they’ve got that pretty dialed. Ladies, I have come to the conclusion that men design the majority of our clothing. I’m sorry. But things are on the up and up! Except for one minor detail (see PEEING).
It’s hard. I spend a lot of time in a spandex onesie, in the middle of winter. Taking all of that off to pee, holee! We have all heard the brands, “She-Pee,” “Whiz-Kid,” “Freshette,” I call mine “Fem-Wow.” Unlike the boys, we can’t just whip it out and relieve ourselves wherever. The boldest among us will, but if you still have some attachment to privacy, it can be hard to drop trow alongside a crowded highway, off the side of a raft, in the middle of a single-track race, or in a bustling parking lot in downtown Hollywood. When I first started racing, my husband told me that if I wanted to win, I would have to pee down my leg… “Everybody’s doing it,” he said. There has to be a better way!
Women, we are the raddest and baddest bunch on the planet. We are so fortunate that in America we hold the right to drive our own car, plan our own adventures, and befriend whomever we please. We all have the same parts, now let’s be best friends!
Big thanks to all of the ladies who came out for Ladies’ Night, this is the first step to changing the world.