She Surf: The Rise of Female Surfing
Lauren Hill’s New Book Celebrates Women’s Surf Culture
Words | Darby Moore
It’s an iconic image for St. Augustine sliders: Lauren Hill gliding atop an emerald wave, clad in a florid long-sleeve blouse. A thin tie is fixed around her neck, flowing in the wind as Hill perches on the nose of her longboard, knees bent, arms by her side. It’s an image of ease and grace, an understated depiction of the feminine form embracing nature. Hill is a professional surfer and writer who has dedicated her career to sharing the stories of women’s surf cultures found around the world. Her new book, She Surf: The Rise of Female Surfing examines what it means to be a surfer through an eco-feminist lens.
Hill’s new release explores what it means to be a female surfer, tackling issues like hypersexualization that’s seemingly ingrained in surf culture, activism, and lack of diversity in the lineup. She addresses these issues through the words and insights of influential women of the waves, exploring the stories of over 25 water women. Throughout the course of the book, Hill conducts intimate interviews with trailblazers who revolutionized women’s surfing, as well as the up-and-comers that are shaping the future of the sport.
Hill addresses a stark reality, that women make up about 20 to 30 percent of surfers. Of this small percentage, women of color comprise an even smaller number. Hill profiles women that break the stereotype of what’s been thought to be the ideal female surfer: blonde-haired, fair-skinned, and skinny. Instead, Hill elects to share the stories of women shaping the art of surfing around the globe, from Sri Lanka to Morocco to Canada.
My first impression after getting my hands on a copy of Surf Surf was that this is much more than a book, it is an artifact. The pages of this book are filled with glossy contemporary images, vintage illustrations, and film photographs, all capturing the joy and grace of women in the water throughout the decades.
My second impression was that this body of work is a labor of love. Hill details the stylings of iconic female surfers with an obvious care. When speaking to the graceful expressions of world-renowned longboarders Kassia Meador and Belinda Baggs, one phrase stood out. Hill writes:
“The perch of a goofy-footed hang-ten, feet together, right hip leaning, accentuates their natural curves, making them feel like icons of the feminine form–each a Venus de Milo floating above a fluid, sparkling sea.”
She Surf provides a unique look at what it means to be a female surfer, providing a dignified and inclusive look at the sport. It is a relic commemorating water women across the globe and throughout the decades.