It has come to my attention that there was, and perhaps still is, a bumper sticker out there that reads:
Fat, ugly, mean? Move to Mammoth, be a queen.
What?! I take offense! Is this really a perception held by people about Mammoth, or ski towns in general? Skiing is an industry dominated by men and ski towns are dominated by the industry, making men the majority. So does this demographic situation allow for women to rule over ski towns like royalty?
Let’s first look at the facts.
According to Census data from 2010, the total population of people in Mammoth Lakes over the age 18 is 6,180 and is split 55.2% male, 44.8% female (3,411 males/2,786 females)*. Compare this to the 2010 data from California, where women narrowly rank in the majority at 50.2% of the total population. Initially when I read the figures for Mammoth, I was pretty surprised. I always thought women were way more in the minority. But then I thought about it some more.
Mammoth is a resort town, and there are a lot of transients that plant themselves here just for the winter, spending the season in the mountains before moving on to their next adventure. When you go to the bar, people cling to their origins, “check out my Alaska ID- it doesn’t even look real!” A lot of the people that are here for the ski season do not change their residency, register to vote in California, or even at the very least maintain a year-long lease. So I am going to guess that a vast majority of the twenty-somethings in this town is unaccounted for in Census data. And from personal experience living here, a lot of those twenty-somethings are guys.
There are more men in town than women, to the extent that it is noticeable. It is not uncommon to go out to a bar and upon setting foot inside, getting steamrolled by the musky smell of ski town men (a mix of cheap cologne, multiple days old ski socks, and PBR). I swear sometimes I can actually feel my estrogen levels dropping, as I am overwhelmed by the presence of male testosterone. When a prominent bar in town offers free bottle service to any group of five females that comes in together, you know that maybe there’s a ratio problem.
So back to the question, can women reign free in ski towns? I have definitely had my moments when I play my gender to my favor. I readily allow men that I am completely uninterested in to buy me drinks. On days when I have finally made the great skate to Chair 1, only to realize I have left my pass in my other jacket, I put my goggles up, bat my eyelashes at the liftie and explain that I just need to lap around and grab it, so pleeeease could you open the RFID gate for me? I have grabbed the hand of my best girlfriend, and stormed to the front of long lines to get into Laka Nuki (where we go to dance) and proclaimed, as if it is my birthright, that I should be let in because surely they need more females inside. And you know what? It works. Because it’s true; women in ski towns can let the numbers play to our favor.
But, like with anything, there is a tipping point. You can only lead someone on, or act like a diva for so long. As an ex-boyfriend of mine likes to say (obviously, not about me), “No matter how good looking a woman is, there is always someone out there that is sick of dealing with her shit.” And I agree. If you want to be mean, or act like an entitled princess, it’s your choice. However, chances are, you will eventually end up endlessly in the singles’ line, unable to find any takers.
I have definitely seen women who walk around town like there is a crown bestowed upon their heads, but I don’t know if people really respect that, and I don’t think girls do it because there aren’t many other women around. Some people just aren’t always nice. The majority of the women that I know are good, classy, and interesting people. And the other thing about that bumper sticker- Fat, ugly, mean- I don’t see a lot of fat and ugly in this town. We are young, fit, and doing what we love…and that is beautiful.
Yes, we get our share of free drinks. Yes, when I forget my pass in the cafeteria, I still get the employee discount. Yes, sometimes the parking lot guys let me park in the $20/day lot when I’m running late. But you know what? I take those niceties as a
reward for succeeding in an industry dominated by men, for listening to countless unattractive dudes slur creepy pick up lines at the bar, and for living in a town that doesn’t have access to cheap mani/pedis.
Ladies, the odds are good when you are living in a ski town. And while you will definitely be able to use your feminine mystique to your advantage, it does not also give you the ability to abandon all civility and kindness. Just be awesome, be kind, and rip. You won’t need to act like a queen; you’ll be treated like one.
*2010 Census data for a few other ski towns: Truckee: 47.9% female, Steamboat Springs: 45.8% female, Jackson: 48.9% female, Aspen 47.9% female