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“Life’s Swell” on Outside Magazine

Surfer girl

From the archives of Outside and new to me, this piece about surfer girls by writer Susan Orlean. Orlean immerses herself in the culture of surfer girls of Maui. The girls are aged from about 12 to about 20. Her descriptions of their lives, their challenges, of what it’s like to live the life of a surfer girl in Hawaii, the genuine article, left me feeling woefully inadequate and deprived in some ways, and feeling an unexpected empathy for these princesses of cool.

To be a girl surfer is even cooler, wilder, and more modern than being a guy surfer: Surfing has always been such a male sport that for a man to do it doesn’t defy any received ideas; to be a girl surfer is to be all that surfing represents, plus the extra charge of being a girl in a tough guy’s domain. To be a surfer girl in a cool place like Hawaii is perhaps the apogee of all that is cool and wild and modern and sexy and defiant. The Hana girls, therefore, exist at that highest point — the point where being brave, tan, capable, and independent, and having a real reason to wear all those surf-inspired clothes that other girls wear for fashion, is what matters completely. It is, though, just a moment. It must be hard to imagine an ordinary future and something other than a lunar calendar to consider if you’ve grown up in a small town in Hawaii, surfing all day and night, spending half your time on sand, thinking in terms of point breaks and barrels and roundhouse cutbacks.

Those long sentences are just a bite, read the whole thing on Outside.

Photo by DSuar via Flickr (Creative Commons).

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