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Slut Strands: Eileen Gu And All The Women Skiers' Pride

Aug.03,2022
This entry was posted in Explore By Meru

Did you see Eileen Gu win the gold medal in freeski big air at the 2022 Winter Olympics? Did you watch her last run and go all out to win, get your high score and got gold medal first prize? Congrats to her who seems to be an incredible athlete and a very cool person in general.Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the most important part of her performance on champion’s night: her hair.

Women Skiers Always Wear Two Strands Outside the Helmet

As you may know, Chloe Kim is also a skier on the Winter Olympics 2022, and like many on the field, she competes with two strands of hair plucked from her helmet on either side of her face.

Eileen Gu the women skier

If you watched the women's freeski big air final, you would have seen the same hair appearance of all the competitors going down the hill. While some competitors, like Chinese gold medalist Eileen Gu, opt for smaller, finer strands of hair, Kim's look includes thick strands of hair. The style has been rightly compared to the 'prom' hairstyle. However, among freeskiers and snowboarders, the style has a different name. They are affectionately known as "Slut strands".

Slut Strands and Their (Her) Dreams

Slut strands are nothing new. Nor does it have anything to do with perceived or literal promiscuity. It's a term I've known since I was a ski racer in the early 2000s, and it predates me and my friends. At the time, as alpine skiers dreaming of becoming the next Julia Mancuso, we had our hair tied in our helmets, so there was no resistance and no slowing down.

Chole Kim the women skier

Ski gear, especially old ski gear, makes everyone on the hill look like a genderless snow astronaut. (Think of it as a set of rules.) Slut strands is all about letting everyone else on the hill know that you want to be recognized as a female athlete. You can ski and board as much or more than all the men who dominate these sports around you, meaning she didn't run with Kim in the halfpipe final, posted a viral TikTok about her last November. It is to let people know that I am a girl." "Sl*t Strand 4 Life" Mastro added in the caption.

For Elsa Watkins, the Slut Strands are "basically as important as the tie itself" and to "show femininity in a simple and sassy way." Watkins is a Denver-based apparel company. Outerwear designer and founder of Slut Strand Society. “I am from Crested Butte. I grew up in ski shops. We were always at the forefront of the world of music,” says Watkins. "So when we started calling them bitches in sixth grade, it stuck with us. 

Elsa Watkins the women skier

Take Slut Strands with Their Women's Pride

Slut Strand Society was founded three years ago and now has over 20,000 Instagram followers. She's from a family of skiers. Watkins said her brother was also a halfpipe and slopestyle skier. "I didn't really like it per se, but I figured if you call it Lemonade Lemon, it would be better to use it to make Lemon out of Lemonade, because it's clear the name wouldn't change. Freestyle." I love that it's an almost universal trend for skiers and snowboarders.

"There was really no one in that space designing outerwear for girls," Watkins said. I spent my childhood on the slopes. "So we wore Men's Armada and Men's Saga, popular brands of ski and snowboard apparel and gear." was the only way. So the highlight was an easy way to tell people, oh, it's a girl!" For Watkins, being seen as a girl on the mountain was very important...it still is. 

Women Skiers

Watkins said of the ubiquitous Slut Strands, "The people in this space are admired and comrades." It's a very easy way to make people feel included and valued." She and her colleagues spend a lot of time promoting and marketing gear, but want to make sure what they're promoting improves and hopefully expands Winter's sport her community. It often happens. Given the high financial and geographic barriers to entry, perhaps unsurprisingly, they are often highly exclusive communities. It's the only thing we can promote: "It makes you feel like you're connected by just two strands of hair."

Why do female snowboarders have hair strands?

Snowboarders have been donning the hairstyle for decades, as Slate reported, and many wear them as a way to let "everyone else on the hill that you want to be recognized as a female athlete," reporter Madison Malone Kircher wrote.

Why do female skiers pull hair out of helmet?

Female skiers and snowboarders will commonly wear two strands of hair outside of their helmets, framing their face in a sign of femininity.

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