Re-discovering polleras in the wardrobes of aunts and grandmothers seemed the obvious choice for Dani Dani Santiváñez, a young Bolivian skater who created ‘ImillaSkate’.
The Bolivian ‘polleras’, bulky skirts commonly associated with the indigenous women from the highlands, were for decades a symbol of uniqueness and an object of discrimination. Now, a new generation of women skateboarders in Cochabamba wears them as an emblem of resistance.
While the garment was initially imposed by Spanish colonisers on the native population, over the centuries, it integrated into the local identity as an ambivalent symbol of authenticity and stigmatisation. Re-discovering polleras in the wardrobes of aunts and grandmothers seemed the obvious choice for Dani Santiváñez, a young Bolivian skater who, wanting to reconnect with her roots in 2019, created ‘ImillaSkate’.
‘Imilla’ means ‘young girl’ in Aymara and Quechua - the two most widely spoken languages in Bolivia, where more than half the population has indigenous roots. The nine women currently part of the group only wear polleras to skate. Knee-length and paired with trainers, these skirts symbolise the choice not to deprive themselves of their culture. Through this practice, they convey their message of inclusion and acceptance of diversity.
Luisa Dörr is a Brazilian photographer who uses the portrait as a vehicle to explore the complexity of human nature. Her current work focuses on gender issues and cultural traditions, and her photographs have appeared in Time Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Times and Wired. In 2019, she won 3 rd prize in the portrait stories category of the World Press Photo Award.