How a 47-year-old skateboarding mom breaks stereotypes (with a little help from TikTok)

Picture your mom completely shredding it on a skateboard at your local park, rolling through with a sick trick, smile, and cheeky wink. Does that feel weird? Funny? One TikTok account, @AuntySkates, is challenging our perceptions of who can do the sport, what it means to have a late-in-life hobby, and society’s expectations of older women of color.

The Aunty Skates account is run by Oorbee Roy, a 47-year-old mother of two from Toronto, Canada, who skateboards on the daily. Her videos chronicle her progress, give glimpses into skateboarding excursions with her family, and provide advice to beginner skaters, all while emphasizing that what she’s doing isn’t the norm — and that needs to change. 

Skateboarding isn’t new to Roy’s family. Twenty years ago, while she was working on Wall Street as a successful post-dotcom tech employee, her husband was skating half pipes and doing board slides across the river in her home state of New Jersey. The two met, fell in love, and moved to Canada. They had two kids, a boy and a girl, and all the while her husband kept skating in his free time. A few years later, Roy left her job to be with her family full-time and found that her husband, and now both kids, were spending a lot of time outside with their boards. 

To put it simply, Roy felt left out. “Honestly, I just didn’t want to be the mom standing there watching everyone else have fun. So I was like, ‘I’m gonna do it too.’ I took a couple of lessons. And I just fell in love with it right away,” she explained.

She would grow from those first classes with a local instructor four years ago as well as a memorable, painful fall as she attempted to skate down into a half pipe, known as a drop in. “I tried to drop in, and I fell immediately on my bum, and it hurt. And I was like, ‘This is awesome!'” Roy remembered. “It was liberating.” 

Her husband built her a small ramp at her parents’ house, and now she’s a frequent skater who can successfully drop into 7-foot bowls and land a spinning trick called a “shuvit” on her first try. She’s even entered and won skating contests. Her account, made in February 2021, is filled with self-motivating stories about breaking out of the molds of gender, age, and culture that made her feel like she could never get into a hobby like skateboarding. 

Her identity as a South Asian woman led to the name of her account. “The Aunty in Indian culture is traditionally the person who’s very gossipy, who puts you down, who tells you you’ve gotten a little bit fat, or asks, ‘Why haven’t you gotten married yet?’ And I think a lot of cultures have that,” Roy explained. She wanted to subvert that experience, to reclaim her culture’s symbol of a problematic older person to encourage adults, Indian women particularly, to live more like kids.


If I’m out there, as an Indian woman in my 40’s skateboarding, that representation matters.

Roy used the Aunty character more frequently in her early videos, dressed in culturally-relevant clothing and using a familial accent. In the year since, she’s abandoned the character a bit, not feeling it as necessary anymore. “I’m just going to be the Aunty that builds you up instead of tearing you down,” she said. “I want to be a force of change.”

Now, she posts almost every day to 145,000 followers on TikTok. One video of her coaching her daughter through a difficult trick has 2.4 million views. She plans to start a YouTube account to share her story and advice, and her main goal is to get every able and interested adult on a skateboard, to encourage what she calls “adult play.” 

Roy’s content inspires on multiple levels: It’s encouraging for older women who have given up personal hobbies for work and family, it’s representation for South Asian people who feel confined by cultural expectations, and it’s the first time many people are seeing an older woman of color take on a sport traditionally fronted by white men. “If I’m out there, as an Indian woman in my 40s skateboarding, that representation matters. Seeing that matters… I’m giving them permission to do it,” she explained. 

A photo of Roy holding up her arms as she skates inside a half pipe painted in bright colors and graffiti.


Credit: Chantal Garcia / Oorbee Roy

Roy started her own Aunty Skates website and hosts skate events, which include group classes in Toronto sponsored by major skateboarding brands like Madness Skateboards. She plans to expand these across North America once public health concerns ramp down. 

At these events, intentional judgment-free zones, she interacts with people of all ages and backgrounds. She’s received comments from older parents at the skateparks, apologizing for ridiculing her or asking for advice to get started themselves. And her online messages are filled with people from around the world who are pursuing their passions because of her content. Before our interview, she got a letter from a young man based in India who told her he wanted to pursue a music career despite his family’s objections. “​​He said, ‘I’ve seen your videos, and I’m watching you, and you inspired me. I went back to my parents, and I fought with them. They finally said yes,'” Roy relayed.

She thinks taking on these passions as an adult is an extremely powerful experience. “I think the fact that I never skateboarded as a child was almost to my benefit, because I had no expectations of trying to get back to where I was. Any step I take is a step forward, and it’s joyful. So I celebrate every single small win I make while skateboarding,” Roy said. 

She also firmly believes that embracing these hobbies publicly has a positive effect on her (and potentially others’) mental health. “You’re working forward, you’re working towards something, you’re finding success and things on your own,” she said.


It’s hard for you to go out there as an adult and take [lessons], but you’re doing it. And you need to be encouraged.

A sense of adult obligation and the stereotypes that accompany one’s identities might explain why so many avoid sharing their hobbies publicly, like Roy. And why, in 2020, news outlets devoted headlines to the adults that started crafting or made baking accounts on Instagram. Why young women roller skating at the park kept going viral on TikTok. People were embracing what they loved regardless of expectation. “When you’re allowing yourself these moments to be vulnerable and try something new, the reward is quite high. It’s worth taking a video and sending it to everybody,” she said.

I can relate to Roy’s videos. Aging through my twenties, I’ve decided to embrace the things that bring me joy, without embarrassment. This year I pledged to take on the once-monumental task of learning how to play the drums. So far, I’ve just been doing online tutorials and can play a few simple beats. I shared this aspiration with her. “It’s hard. It’s hard to go out there. It’s hard for you to go out there as an adult and take music lessons, but you’re doing it. And you need to be encouraged,” Roy said. 

Roy infuses her TikTok videos with this energy. She’s a confident person, a fun mom, a supportive Aunty no matter your experience. She is inherently motivational, wanting genuinely to help people overcome the expectations to conform to a certain stereotype. 

Personally, she’s reminding me that my fear of failure as an adult woman trying a new hobby is not embarrassing. “Failure isn’t the end, it’s just part of the journey. It’s progress,” she told me. “You know, if you have a video that you want to share with me of your drums that you’re proud of, I will be your hype woman. I promise.” 

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