I'm sexy and I know it.
By Natalie Small, Therapist and Founder of Groundswell Community Project
Photo Cred: @alyssaboyntonphotography
To be sexy or not to be sexy...that’s not even the question!
Every women when wildly expressing her truest self in the world is drop dead sexy! So Yes...Be Sexy! To not be sexy is to not walk out into this world with confidence in who you are. Being Sexy is knowing that you have something unique that only you can give!
But how do we empowered women embrace our bold sexiness in a world where culture has used sexy as a way to objectify us, has made sexy into a specific set of physical characteristics that less than 1% of the world actually have, and half of that 1% only have those specific “sexy” criteria because they paid for it. (85% of statistics are made up to proove a point: fact...but its a good point and closer to true than not).
Photo Cred: @encinitassurfpics
"Surfing has helped me fall in love with myself all over again and own that, yes, even I am sexy!"
For myself, owning my sexiness has been an on going process. Shame, guilt, and hiding my feminine curves to letting them flail around on the dance floor wild and free. Hurtful relationships and beautiful relationships. Successes and failures. Screaming my voice in temper-tantrums angry to be heard to singing my unique voice in harmonies heard, enjoyed, and praised. Laughable bangs, and perms to salty dreaded locks. And of course lots of therapy, mentors, friends, and loves that have forced me to see myself through my eyes rather than cultures eyes to see the unique beauty that only I possess...and then there has been surfing!
Surfing, to me, is one of the most beautiful expressions of raw humbled humanity finding joy, power, and oneness in existence as part of nature. Surfing has helped me form a relationship with my body from shame to strength and objectified to an amazing resource full of resiliency and possibility. Surfing has helped me fall in love with myself all over again and own that yes, even I am sexy!
Surf industry....is the exact opposite of surfing. It is the epidemy of sexism: selling flip flops with thonged butts and surf boards with girls wearing string bikinis that would never stand a chance even in the white water. Even with the WSL stating they will provide equal pay for both men and women in surf competitions starting 2019: chatter was that the decision was made off of the fact that sex sells (more bikinied women=more frothing viewers=more money for WSL) not prompted by true equality. (I choose not to believe this, but it could be true)
But, we are not living in this “Surf sexism” world anymore! Companies like Hakuna Wear and Kassia are changing the industry! Surf suits made by women for women! Surf suits that are made to express, enjoy, and celebrate the unique beauties of the feminine body rather than seeing them as a weakness or set back!
As a Therapist and Founder of Groundswell Community Project, a non-profit that provides surf therapy programs that heal, empower, and unite women who are overcoming abuse, addiction, trauma, and mental illness; a huge part of our programs is helping women let go of those cultural norms and expectations of what the surf culture (and all culture) tells us who a “surfer” (or even a woman) is. Once we let go of these cultural expectations and ratings we are free to dive deeper into our truest expression of self in the world....and that is sexy!
At the beginning of our Groundswell 8 week Surf Therapy sessions 10 women from all different walks of life circle together on the beach and speak their voice into the circle: “I am (the name I wish to be called)! I am (a characteristic of who I know I truly am). And I am a surfer!” The last “I am” statement tends to be the hardest that first day. A female surfer has tended to be by surf industry definition is tall, thin, long torso, tan, doesn’t make a face of simultaneous terror/bliss/and stoke when dropping into a wave and of course nails the paddle out into the sun butt-shot every time. None of us nail the butt-shot every time, none of us can hide our pure stoke when in the pocket of of Mother Ocean’s waves! We are not that “surfer”, but we are surfers!
"These women have instead chosen to celebrate unity and uniqueness in the sea as surfers! And this is the sexiest thing I have ever seen, so sexy in fact it makes me cry (What string bikini has brought tears of beauty to your face lately?)"
At the end of our 8 weeks together of overcoming fears and self doubt, diving deeper into mother ocean and ourselves, and forming new relationships with our bodies founded in the fact that we are strong and resilient; the definition of who a surfer is opens up. Each woman defines what it means to her to be a surfer in our final circle together: “I am a surfer, I am strong in the face of adversity, I paddle out even when scared, I have community and am never alone, I am not afraid to fail and fall, I am like Mother Ocean strong and beautiful, I am a mother and protector of the voiceless, I belong, I am a surfer!” These women came to Mother Ocean’s shore to learn to surf and to shed labels and stories the world had thrown on them; labels of addict, bulimic, abused, raped, victim, trafficked, unwanted, shamed, ugly, not worthy. These women have instead chosen to celebrate unity and uniqueness in the sea as surfers! And this is the sexiest thing I have ever seen, so sexy in fact it makes me cry (what string bikini has brought tears of beauty to your face lately?)