This is how Andy Duran describes the feeling of skateboarding.
“Imagine your favorite song and then suddenly being able to feel the song moving through you in the wind,” Duran said. “That’s what skating is like. It’s really, really beautiful.”
Duran grew up skateboarding in the California Bay Area in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Now 36 and a professional sex educator in Oakland, Calif., He found himself stuck at home when the pandemic hit. That’s when he wanted to start over.
Once he started looking for new equipment online, he was surprised at the lack of resources and information for overweight skaters. Duran currently weighs over 300 pounds and identifies as “fat”. Most boards had weight limits under 300 pounds and it was difficult to find the right skate sizes and the right equipment. Even plus size skating t-shirts were scarce.
“I could see they weren’t selling bigger shirt sizes, and it immediately gave me the impression that they had an idea of who was going to be a skater. I felt like I couldn’t even not be a fan. “
“I was surprised to come across weight limits (on skateboards) that were weights I was over when I was skateboarding in middle school and high school. I was a fat kid growing up at. sure, ”Duran said. “I weighed about 250 pounds in high school, and I still have this board (the flat part of a skateboard) to this day. I’ve never broken it.”
Grind for good
Duran wanted to prove that people of all sizes could skateboard and hoped he could cheer on others. He started posting videos of himself and his friends skating, but was disappointed to see the negative comments pour in.
“We were immediately struck by comments of fat phobia about our body size, comments about the material of our skateboards or skates to hold us on. It can certainly be heartbreaking when you’re trying to create that visibility and knowing that visibility opens the door to more attacks as well. “
He wanted to create Chub Rollz as a safe space open to tall people wishing to learn and skate together – whether on a skateboard, roller skates, or any type of wheels. The group has monthly meetings and Duran arrives early to set up skateboards, skates and equipment to help anyone who wants to stop and try skating.
“You don’t have to be Tony Hawk to benefit from it. It can be really beneficial,” said Duran. “I feel very free to be in my body and to be myself on a skateboard.”
As well as being positive for the body, Duran, who is black and Mexican, is proud that Chub Rollz is “founded by the BIPOC” and run by a “queer and trans team”.
The group is working to make everyone feel welcome and safe in the new community they are building, he said. “We can show what this whole community looks like and not just what the ads look like or what professional athletes look like.”
Approximately 20 skaters per month participated in the group’s skating meetups, and people across the United States and as far away as Australia and South Africa took part in the group’s virtual discussions.
Duran says that one thing that sets Chub Rollz apart from other plus size groups is that weight loss isn’t a factor. The point is just to have people who skate and move for fun.
“The reality is that bodies are as they are. Some bodies are big, some are not, and some bodies fluctuate,” says Duran. “Not everyone who is fat is really looking to change that in any way. We just need to create safe spaces for the fat people to be themselves and to explore and move as they want.”