There’s something about the sound of skateboard wheels on concrete and the emotionally inept men-boys who ride them that makes straight girls go wild. Annie Fell talks to the woman behind the hilarious meme account @tinyhat_skatelife about toxic masculinity, the skate culture renaissance, and the strange appeal of sk8ter boys.
The idea that skaters are fuckboys is not new. Back in 2015, writer Alana Massey explored the puzzling cultural lust for the skater puer aeternus—a flaky and sexually non-aggressive boy-man on wheels. Cher Horowitz’s “baggy pants and greasy hair” speech in Clueless has a reinvigorated sartorial relevance. Personally, I don’t think the trope has ever been illustrated as acutely as when, in Lords of Dogtown, Michael Angarano’s character pauses a makeout sesh to request of the babe, “Tell me I’m a good skater?”
As someone who’s in a long-term relationship with a skater (like, capital-S works-for-a-skate-zine Skater) I understand and can totally admire when someone has an interest they’re so passionate about. However—and I speak of skaters in general here—I never feel misandrist ire so acutely as when a conversation I thought I was included in suddenly turns to a discussion of a newly discovered skate spot. What is the girl who couldn’t give less of a shit about the latest tailslide-able ledge behind a middle school to do?
Enter: @tinyhat_skatelife. The anonymously-run meme account (introduced in her bio only by the skater mating call “Sorry I Didn’t Say Hi”) eviscerates “skate culture” so deeply and accurately that skaters and the people who date them alike can’t help but feel personally attacked. It’s inside baseball for skater-daters—being ignored at various bars in Bushwick by some dude blankly staring at @feedback_ts videos; downing countless beer and shot specials (all of which you paid for yourself); trying to figure out if he’s crossed the fine line between “extroverted partier” and straight-up alcoholic. I talked to the enigmatic Tiny Hat over email about why skater boys will never change their fuckboy ways, skating as a street wear trend, and Bam Margera.
Annie Fell: What’s your relationship to skating? When and how did you become part of ~skate culture~?
Tiny Hat: I’ve always been roasted for loving skater boys/skate culture. In all honestly I’ve only really dated, like, two skaters, and not for long. I’m only 22, haha, I have time to date more. I do not skate; I pick up the random skate terms from my friends who skate. I go to skate bars in Bushwick. I almost went to the “Date A Sk8er” event on Valentine’s Day [a speed dating event hosted by the skate magazine Jenkem], but other than that I have no actual ties to the skate community.
Wildboyz, Jackass, and Viva La Bam were my first introductions into ~skate culture~. I started watching Wildboyz at ten, and when I was thirteen my mom let me start watching Jackass (it was a lil’ too raunchy for my ten year old eyes, so I had to wait).
I grew up in NYC, so skaters were always around. In middle school I used to hang out at Tompkins Square Skate Park and the one on 12th and A (OGs will remember that one). I probably tried to ride on a skateboard, like, three times. I definitely wanted to learn to skate but never did.
When I was in high school I had a crush on a skater boy and my step dad made me watch the Bones Brigade documentary so I could seem like I knew about skating. So that helped a lot. My favorite skater from that film is Lance Mountain, if you were wondering.
What was the impetus behind starting the account?
I was truly ~inspired~ by the Bella [Hadid] “homeboy could get it” starter pack memes that showed boys with the cuffed Dickies and tiny hats. It made me think “Wow, I’m not alone in loving this ~aesthetic/look~.” But also, why am I being treated the same way as so many other people? I’ve always loved memes (duh, don’t we all) and I’d have this bad habit of posting very specific ones on my Instagram stories to get the attention of boys I was dating (petty, I know). I started personalizing the cuffed Dickies meme to match my real life experiences. Such as, “Why did this pic invite me to Three Diamond Door and then pretend he didn’t see me all night?”
One day, I decided to just put all the memes I had collected/created on an Instagram account. That’s when tinyhat_skatelife was born. Originally I wanted to name it SupremeMemez, but that was taken.
Why do you think people find skating so attractive as opposed to other subcultures, like surfing or snowboarding?
I grew up in Brooklyn, so skateboarding is all I’ve ever been around. Snowboarding and surfing relates to climate/weather. Also, hello, they have no need to wear the tiny hat! Skateboarding, I guess, is more universal. I cringe as I write this, but I think that it also has to do more with the style/aesthetic being more obtainable and connected directly to street wear. Like, people who do not skate still dress like skaters. Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters have both done collaborations with Dickies. Supreme has done a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, and so on and so on.
Do you think the skating-style comeback is part of the ‘90s/early ‘00s pop cultural revival? To me, everything feels aesthetically like a cross between Kids and Avril Lavigne right now.
Remember that scene in Clueless when they roll up to the party and Travis lands a trick in front of Cher and Tai? Cher says “Ugh, skateboards? That is, like, so five years ago.” Well, she was obviously wrong because that look and style just seems to keep creeping back.
I remember watching Kids my freshman year of high school because the boys in my grade kept raving about it. I understand the appeal of ‘90s New York, but other than that Kids still leaves my stomach in knots. But now that you mention it, the baggy pants are making a come back. Maybe it will be easier for boys to steal 40s in the summer.
As for Avril, I was never a huge fan. “Sk8r Boi” is great though.
My friends who skate love the account, and clearly it’s resonated with many more—why do you think skaters are so into it when they’re getting pretty brutally roasted?
I LOVE THE BOYS WHO FOLLOW ME. I think it’s so cool that they are able to laugh at the memes I make. I have received a little bit of backlash after creating this account. One boy said that I was fetishizing skaters, appropriating skate culture, and talking about something I knew nothing about. One even said they wouldn’t date me if I kept this account going! (Oh no, the horror!!) In some ways it’s true, but in other ways the memes I make don’t directly correlate to skateboarding. It’s more about the act of dating one. So when I see that about 35% of my followers are male skaters it makes me happy. I love people who enjoy a good roast. I even made a starter pack about myself because it’s good to not take yourself so seriously.
As for why they like to be roasted so harshly is news to me. A lot of skaters are super negative and self-deprecating, so maybe that is why :)
On a similar note, what do you think of the dudes who are recognizing themselves in your memes but don’t seem to think there’s any problem with that behavior?
OK, in my experience, dating a skater sucks. In my friends’ experiences, they say exactly the same thing. Why are these terrible traits so prevalent in the skate community? Why are our experiences so freakishly similar? Do boys even acknowledge their behavior? It’s nice that we can all laugh about it but what I’m poking fun at is actually really toxic and unhealthy. Someone shouldn’t dub [ignore] you for days and then hit you up out of the blue or make empty promises only to disappoint you later. I am not quite sure as to why a terrible relationship goes hand in hand with dating a skater.
Also, I am generalizing here; not all skateboarders are part of this lifestyle. I think I should also point out that I do not hate skaters or skateboarding in the slightest bit. A lot of my friends who skate hate the toxic hyper-masculine environment that brings on this type of behavior, so it isn’t fair to say that all skater boys are like this.
I’m just slapping a tiny hat and skateboard onto a personality trait that is beyond just this aesthetic/skating. I am pretty much [highlighting] the shitty elements of hookup culture. So although the memes I make are based on what a specific boy looks like, these actions are found throughout other subcultures.
All men are trash, am I right??
What are you hoping to accomplish with the account? Can skaters ever change?
I don’t think skater boys will ever change. They will forever be sending you a text at 5 AM, or ignoring you at your fave bar. But so what! This is not me being negative, but honestly I will never understand the “lifestyle” (maybe I’ll just admire it from afar or finally grow out of this “phase”). I really think skateboarding is cool and it is fascinating that so many people love and admire doing it. I wish I could find something I loved as much as these boys love skating.
My goal of this account was not to change them. I just wanted to make funny memes that could be universally felt by girls who date them/skaters. Pretty simple.
Lastly, fuck, marry, kill: Ryan Sheckler, Bam Margera, or Tony Hawk (Pro Skater rendering)?
Fuck: Tony Hawk (Pro-skate rendering)
Marry: 2018 Bam Margera; sure, he’s lost his looks but I saw his screening [of his Epically Latered episode] at House of Vans and it really seems like he’s getting his life together.
Kill: 2007 Ryan Sheckler; I never understood the fad/he never is who I think of when I think of skaters… also getting a tattoo of your last name is so lame.
Side note: I’m still totally down to date a skater.