Celebrating International Women’s Day with the World’s Top Female Surfers
International Women’s Day is a day intended to celebrate the contributions of women to society worldwide, with the ultimate goal of more quickly achieving gender equality. Though there have been some disappointing displays of objectification in professional surfing in recent times – see the video below starring Stephanie Gilmore for an example – there has certainly been movement in a positive direction with regards to the way women surfers are viewed publicly.
For a long time female surfers were largely ignored as athletes, and even today a major issue in professional surfing relates to the tendency to focus on the bodies of female surfers, while male surfers receive more adulation for their surfing feats. Many of the world’s top female surfers, however, are pushing hard to be looked upon in the same light as their male counterparts, and have made significant inroads in supporting the cause of International Women’s Day. Continued high performance has resulted in sponsorships from big brands, something which is indicative of the increasing regard in which these women are held.
As the reigning world champion, Tyler Wright has branded herself as one of the most iconic female athletes in the world, and has been able to command sponsorships in a way her predecessors were unable to. She has a number of major brands supporting her, ranging from major surf brand Ripcurl to lesser known businesses such as Ocean & Earth Store. The latter of these offers custom made surf accessories in Tyler Wright’s name, in a similar vein to the custom-made surf equipment available from Branded by Disrupt.
The winner of $536,000 in prize money in 2016, the world champ can point to the equal prize money received by all professional surfers, regardless of gender, as the type of equality International Women’s Day seeks to attain. Despite this, she recognises the difficulties her predecessors faced in attaining this parity. The problems faced by the champions of last generations, such as Layne Beachley, stand in stark contrast to Wright’s situation, where she is paid fairly, gains sponsorships with ease, and most importantly, is recognised for her brilliant surfing. This, perhaps, is indicative of the movements International Women’s Day wishes to create more of.
Similar to Tyler Wright, Carissa Moore’s resume ensures she demands significant interest from sponsors. She is supported by major apparel label Hurley, a branch of the leading sports apparel brand on the globe in Nike. An ability to attract interest from one of the dominant organisations worldwide is indicative of the stead in which she is held, as well as the progression which has been made in recognising female surfers.
As a three-time world champion at the age of 24, Carissa Moore is well placed to become one of the most well decorated surfers in the sports history. Her journey has not been entirely smooth sailing though, with the Hawaiian admitting to experiencing negativity surrounding her body even in the aftermath of her first world title. In fighting through such adversity to claim two more titles in the ensuing four years, Moore has proven an inspiration. An ability to rise above such unreasonable criticism is perhaps the best way to silence it, and the young star has forged a platform from which to demonstrate the supreme talent possessed by female surfers. Such stoicism coupled with such talent is to be applauded, and inevitably places Moore as an ambassador for the equality which International Women’s Day hopes to make customary.