This article originally appeared on Ski Mag
Working as the minority female amongst a varsity team of alpine jocks can be difficult. Some days, you will feel ignored or unheard and question whether you should wear a low-cut v-neck or your baggiest pair of Carhartt's to balance out the lack of acknowledgment. On other days, you'll feel like you're part of the band of brothers.
Yes, I know: Most shop boys aren't judgmental bros. They want to play around with shiny objects and expensive toys and never give into the structure of a 9-to-5 salaried job. Relatable! It's not their fault their ideas are being constantly reinforced by their male counterparts who have little to argue about other than the placement of the new retail racks or which idiot bought 500 units of Edgie Wedgies. Every once in a while, you get to listen to an emotionally charged debate over which technician is better at their job. (At this point, you should pat them on the head and give them a lollipop.)
However, being the token female, or even one of three women in the ski showroom, you must quickly find your niche and establish your dominance amidst a sea of salty bros that have a hard time hearing a woman's voice over their daily monologue of sales goals, humble brags, and poop jokes. To establish your own Shop Cred, you'll need to back up "that pretty face" with equal parts intelligence, kindness, and a thick skin coated with sassy comebacks to protect perceived weaknesses that may be exposed to the elements.
As with most male species, they have a limited comfort level with gray area topics and opinion-based conversations. Here are some tips to get you started.
Comments you should steer clear of:
Your feelings and emotions.
"Do you think he's hot?"
"Would these bibs look cute on me?"
"I mean yeah, the topsheet graphic sort of matters."
"I do not enjoy Coors Light."
What to order for lunch
Freeride World Tour
The Token Female will likely run into a few mansplaining situations while at the ski shop. The term mansplaining was derived from the male species' frequent assumption that a woman does not understand something a male might understand. Often prompted by a simple question, the male engages in an unintentional yet compulsive desire to deliver an answer in a highly in-depth manner that is best suited for educating a 5th grader. Reactions from women trapped in a mansplain range from interest to annoyance to hot, silent fury.
"So, as the ski slides over snow you will begin to engage your knees and bend them enough to rotate the ski onto its edge, at which point the skis will carve in the direction you have bent your knees-"
"I didn't ask how to ski... I asked how the ski 'skis'..."
"Oh... Like how it feels? Suuuuuuper surfy. You're gonna love it."
(Pat on the head, then lollipop, remember?)
A small but notable percentage of the 50-80 age group may converse with you exclusively to find an experienced male employee who can answer the same questions. But of course, a young girl such as oneself could not understand the complexities of a ski's shape, structure, and composition! They will look straight through you as they meander towards the ski wall, floating on a cute little cloud of ignorance. I'll chalk this one up to generational differences.
On the opposite end of the customer inquiry spectrum is the elder who hasn't skied in 25 years and is ready to pick the sport back up. This customer missed the time their beloved 210cm parabolic skis transformed into what used to be called waterskis. Their first steps back into a shop must be a shocking and confusing time, as you can imagine.
This customer presents the Token Female with a pivotal moment in her retail career. She must utilize the fundamental tactics of mansplaining to patiently describe new-age ideologies and technologies that said elder seemed to miss during the past two decades. Unlike the male, the female will offer a soft blow of information balanced with a gentile discussion of the changing times as she lends an ear to a 20-minute commemorative reflection of an intrepid adventure in the San Juans on their beloved set of Elan skis.
The action sports world may dominated by men, but that doesn't mean our place in that world should be defined by gender. You will experience eye-rolling conversations no matter what field you work in. The key is to take the good, bad, and the ugly in with charisma, confidence, and pride. Ski fast, take chances, and the rest will follow! Just make sure to keep a few lollipops in the back pocket.
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