The Establishment Takes on The Topic of Women in Surf Media

Or lack there of really. This has been an ongoing topic and isn’t anything new, but is still an important conversation, even if you’re sick of it. Things to think about are:

  1. Is there a market?
  2. Do women really care about seeing other women?
  3. Would women rather see women in a predominantly male mag or an all female one?

Why are surf magazines erasing-women?

If you based your understanding of who surfs upon what you see in surf media, you’d think the sport was reserved for sun-drenched daredevil guys with six-pack abs and a pair of slouchy board shorts. You might also believe it involves a handful of thong-wearing beach bunnies who like to pose with their boards or wait for their boyfriends on the sand.

I’m here to say that these surf magazines are telling you a lie—a lie they know to be false, but that they continue to perpetuate.

Magazines like Surfer and Surfing are erasing women athletes from the landscape of the sport, and their editorial choices are not only harming women and girls—but the future of the whole industry.

More Women Are Surfing Than Ever Before

Despite what you might discern from surf media, women and girls are surfing more than they ever have before. It’s hard to find data on just how many women are joining the sport, but the most reliable and oft-cited source is Matt Warsaw, author of The Encyclopedia of Surfing, in his New York Times article “Surfing: A History.” Warsaw explains:

“Women accounted for an estimated 3 to 5 percent of the surfing population in 1990; a decade later the figure was thought to be between 10 and 15 percent. With a world surfing population thought to be anywhere between 5 million and 27 million, a lot of women athletes are being ignored.”

Tom Corliss, founder of California’s Malibu Makos Surf Camp, one of the most famous kids’ surf camps in the U.S., says that there have never been more girls in the water than there are right now. In the 1990s and early 2000s, girls made up only about 15-20% of his camp’s demographics. These days, girls are 50-60% of Corliss’ campers. These girls come not just from surf-obsessed Malibu, but are shuttled in from as far away as Encino and the decidedly un-beachy town of Beverly Hills. Considering that Makos has around 200 kids on any given camp day, the number of girls learning to surf is significant.

Read full article here.