Pear Shaped began with a question: ‘Am I the only one?’ Is it just me who has come in from a surf only to find I’d bled all over my white bikini bottoms? Am I the only one whose surfing reality almost never reflects the glam, uber-sexy representation of women’s surfing? And why am I only seeing tanned, hairless, airbrush-perfect women define what it means to be a woman in the water? Surely I’m not the only hairy, awkward lady out there?
Turns out, I’m not. I posed the question on Instagram and the responses were so raw and hilarious, and there were so many of them, that I felt like something needed to be done to reflect this shared reality of women’s surfing that almost never gets talked about, much less portrayed. Each of the scenes in Pear Shaped is based on one, or a compilation of moments, from that post. The name is Aussie slang basically for when ‘shit hits the fan.’
Going deeper into inspiration for Pear Shaped, there’s still a lot of hesitancy to admit that women and men are different. As long as we’re comparing, we’re blocked from just celebrating difference. Can some women mimic men’s surfing? Definitely. But I think that generally speaking, women surf differently, and sometimes with different motivations than men do. That’s only a problem when we endlessly try to compare them. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy. Surf culture is still pretty much a sword fight, so most everything we ‘understand’ about surfing as a culture has been written, photographed or judged from and for a masculine perspective. I think we’re in the process of fleshing it out, finally.
Women make up something like 30% of the surf market now, and mainstream surf media still rarely engages us as stakeholders in our community in thoughtful or meaningful ways.
It feels exclusive, but it also just seems like bad business. I’m bored with the representations of women in many of our media outlets, always hinging on some sexy angle–especially in the non-competitive ‘free surfing’ or lifestyle realm of women’s surf– on passivity instead of ability, and I figured the best way to get around it was to just be honest about how thoroughly un-sexy surfing is for most of us, much of the time. And that’s one of surfing’s lifelong gifts: you will be humbled.
See more from Lauren Hill on Instagram@TheSeaKin