Emma Shoesmith / Adrienne Toumayan

This image gives the viewer a chance to peak behind the scenes of a parkour session. The athlete, though not in active movement, is not portrayed as a passive object – she is just planning her next move.

Emma Shoesmith, UK,


Emma is a Creator, Inventor, inspired artist & action sports enthusiast. She is passionate about the outdoors, and how to achieve the perfect work/life balance, a project that is forever in effect. Emma loves to collaborate with other practitioners and strongly believes that diversity and gender equality are the keys to breakthrough for both businesses and initiatives. After completing a degree in Media at the University of Westminster Emma is completely hooked by image making, whether it be moving or stills, Emma just love to tell stories. And she is fantastic at it! Currently engaged in the project Board of Media, a social movement celebrating gender equality in action sports, Emma is building a community of likeminded brands and bodies. Board Of Media offers a new way to combat the objectification and sexualization of both men and women in action sports media, and the team just closed a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund their upcoming documentary on the topic.

“Moving or still images, my dream is to capture the essence of freedom and bottle it up with other beautiful things, keeping and collecting transient moments that I wish could last forever. My goal in life is to share these ephemeral moments with everyone everywhere; I learn from the people I meet and am inspired by the people I know. My drive to create art is heavily rooted in my search to discover more about myself and the world we live in.”
When and why did you get in to photography?
“Photography is an important part of my creative practice; it is a visual language that never lets me down. Moments in time that I am lucky enough to share with some of my subjects become more precious to me over time. I love to shoot on film, just the whole process is still seems like magic to me!”
What made you get in to action, extreme or adventure sports?
“I saw my mother and father on windsurfers, bikes, boards and skis when I was young. It felt like it was a very normal thing for me to do. My biggest love is snowboarding; a face full of powder and the perfect tree line is my idea of heaven.”


What’s your worst/best/most intense moment related to action sports?
“Best moment: Dropping in to my first big green wave, riding it all the way to the end and smiling all the way! Worst Moment: Being called out in the surf, told to leave a break because apparently I wasn’t “good enough”.
What/Who is you favorite initiative, project, professional, leader, athlete or brand in the action sports sphere?
“The History of Women’s Surfing project is so important to document as women are more often than not left out of surf cultures grand narrative.”
What do you think of the lack of role models for girls and women in male dominated areas?
“The media presents the picture that Men do strength, Women do weakness. However, it is changing! There are a few initiatives that are representing men and women as equals. I would like to see more diversity in the female role models that we are presented with! That’s why the BodiesOfAction campaign is such a great idea!”
How do you see women evolving in the action sports scene?
“Support, support and more support. Girls need to know from an early age that they do not need to wear make up, high heels or have false nails to be somebody or to have value. We need to have a whole curriculum dedicated to teaching young girls and boys to be themselves. The sexualisation and objectification of men in the media is just as bad and harmful as it is for the girls. We are creating a world of men and women with low self-esteem and body dysmorphia! Education is the key.”


What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
“A cleaner, greener action sports industry void of sexism and gender inequality.”


What is the number one preconception or prejudice people have about you?
“People have asked me why we need projects like Board of Media and assume we don’t. I show them my academic research, and that usually aids in informing them why this is a subject that needs to be addressed!

Do you have a feature or body part that you have been self-conscious about? Do you think low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in media are connected?
“As a young girl I worried that my whole body, every single part of it, at some time or another was a little bit, or a lot, wrong. I have fortunately seen the light. Age and Education really is on a girls side when it comes to body image. We are what we are, we are all different, and wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same? ”
Do you think there’s a difference in how women and men are portrayed in the action sports industry?
“Men: Jocks, muscles, sexualised and performing their sport. Women: Passive, naive, sexualised, usually looking directly at the camera more often than not holding there ride. This is a generalization of course, not all action sports brands are doing this.”
What would you say to people who want to get in to action sports, but think they might not fit in?
“You might not fit in to the current stereotype but who wants to do that, anyway? Action sports is about counter culture, creativity and solidarity and unfortunately that is not what it has become. New breeds of athlete’s, aficionados and brands are paving the way, leaving out outdated ideologies behind. It is all about the environment, people included, as long as we protect, nurture and respect one another values we will have a truly amazing future, which may one day be used as a model for global social change.”

 Adrienne Toumayan, USA,


Adrienne is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University in Washington, D.C. When she is not trying to save the world, she is training and teaching parkour, blogging about fitness and travel, and planning future adventures. She is an American Parkour (APK) Ambassador, Board of Media Ambassador, and Parkour Ambassador for High Heaven.

“I love anything related to movement and fitness. I grew up surfing, snowboarding, doing gymnastics and horseback riding, but my true passion now is parkour and freerunning. It is an amazing workout, but parkour has also completely changed my outlook on the world. I find myself with a renewed sense of adventure, excited to play, travel, and train on a daily basis. I am stronger, healthier, and happier than I have ever been and most importantly – I am having the time of my life. 
My dad put me on a board as a kid and I never looked back. I would spend the winters snowboarding and the summers surfing and that was all I needed. I live for that perfect moment of mind-body connection, losing myself in my movement and the environment around me.”
What’s your worst/best/most intense moment related to action sports?
“The Women in Board and Action Sports organization, and all of the women I met at the WIB conference last fall. I’ve never met such a powerful and inspiring group of women.”


What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
More professional opportunities for female athletes. And most importantly, more positive media of women in action sports focused on the athlete’s talent and dedication, not her looks.”


What is the number one preconception or prejudice people have about you?
“Mostly, people just don’t expect much. They expect me to be more flow than strength. And sure, I can be flowy and graceful, but I can also be strong and powerful. I think the worst one though is when people ask me about my boyfriend. They assume that some guy is the reason I started doing parkour. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is!”

Do you have a feature or body part that you have been self-conscious about? Do you think low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in media are
“Ever since I beat the boys in max. number of push-ups in the 7th grade, I have been super self-conscious of my arm muscles. I always thought they were too big and manly. It took me years to be proud of those muscles and show them off. I definitely think there is a connection between low self-esteem in girls and stereotypes in the media. The media spends too much time telling girls we should look like Victoria’s Secret models and stay clean and proper, and we grow up thinking that’s an ideal we need to strive for.”


Is there a difference in how women and men are portrayed in the action sports industry?
“Last year, a commentator at a freerunning competition said about one of the female competitors that she was really good “and not just for a girl,” as if there were two categories of being “good” for girls. It was like he was qualifying her talent as exceeding apparent expectations for female athletes. Additionally, the media tends to focus on a female athlete’s looks rather than her physical abilities. It is all about fashion and beauty, body shots rather than action shots. The media needs to focus on portraying all athletes, both men and women, as just that – athletes, not sex symbols.”
What would you say to people who want to get in to action sports, but think they might not fit in?
“Trying anything new can be scary, but the action sports community is such a welcoming, friendly and fun group of people. I have always felt a strong connection with others over our love for action sports whether it be parkour/freerunning, surfing, or snowboarding. It brings people together in a
really beautiful way. Whether it’s your first day out or you’ve been training for ten years, everyone just wants to ride and enjoy life.”