As I walk along the litter-laden coastline of my local beach break clutching a beaten-up old surfboard held together largely with duct tape and good luck, I'm resigned to the notion that it's probably time for a new board.
However, I've been navigating the moral maze of being a surfer and environmentalist for several years now, and it turns out being both at the same time is not that easy. The problem is that, although surfing itself doesn't damage the environment, our common practices as surfers can have a huge carbon footprint and consumption is probably the biggest enemy to our oceans: buying a new board leaves me facing an environmental conflict. So I find myself asking: can we even get in the ocean without killing it?
Artificial waves have been around for more than 30 years, but commercially sustainable facilities still elude the industry and remain surfing’s Holy Grail: an environmentally friendly everlasting wave for an endless summer. Kelly Slater’s high-performance Surf Ranch is the latest and arguably greatest attempt to achieve this. It combines the latest science and engineering to create the longest rideable, man-made open-barrel wave in the world, set in Lemoore, California, a farming town 100 miles from the ocean. Ten years in the making, Slater’s wave pool technology allows competitors to surf without the risk of flat spells or interruptions from local sharks (the latter having become more common at recent surfing events in Australia and South Africa).
Is this the future of the sport or are we at risk of destroying the soul of surfing?
On a recent photoshoot in the Maldives with Torq Surfboards, I asked the brand if we could invite some local female surfers. I thought it would be great to add some diversity to the catalogue. When they agreed, I began to realise the scale of the challenge I had set myself. 'How many women even surf in the Maldives?' I wondered. Not many, it turns out.
Naaisha Haneef is one of a small crew of women who surf in the Maldives. Naaisha and I discussed her story on a humid morning between surfs, and the full interview is in this months Surf Girl Magazine.
There's a scene in Trouble, Lisa Andersen’s new film, where, over archival footage of her surfing Huntington Beach as a teen, she reflects on her early days as a competitive surfer. Andersen says: “I wanted to surf as good as the guys.” And here's the thing: Andersen did surf as good as the guys, butshe surfed in her own way – as a woman – too.
After watching Trouble and Surf Girls Jamaica at the London Surf Film Festival, I was inspired to write a piece about my role models as a young female surfer, and the importance they played in my life.
I’m really excited to announce my second retreat at The Cliffs Of Moher Retreat Centre, running April 7th - 12th 2019.
This is your chance to immerse yourself in rural West Ireland, embrace the outdoors and to blow away the cobwebs while stretching your body, calming your mind and soothing your soul. This retreat experience is aimed at empowering women to discover their passions and creating lasting change. During this 5-night retreat, through a balance of yoga, outdoor adventure and relaxation, we will take care of the agenda so you can really let go and enter into retreat mode.
This is the second in a series of overly honest product reviews, bought to you by some cringe worthy experiences, one mention of my labia and a small amount of credit card debt.
After the disconcerting success of my period pants and mooncup review in which you can read about my grazed labia here, I thought it best to continue on with product reviews that may also be useful to those of you wondering whether to make a purchase or not.
I recently bought a metal ‘safety razor’ and had quite a few questions and requests for reviews about it, so here goes, overly honest product reviews take two.
Side Note: I'm not paid to say this and it is not #spon or #ad.
Surf Girl Magazine interviewed me for their latest magazine, we talked about changes in the surfing industry, the people who inspire me and my rise fierce tribe. You can pick up a copy in WHSmiths or zoom in and squint to try and read it below...
Caster Semenya, the 800m runner who won Olympic gold at London 2012, has been unfairly discriminated against for years because she challenges perceptions of what it is to be a woman by daring to have a testosterone level higher than the average.
Last week, over 60 professional athletes, with fairly impressive sporting titles from two-time Olympic gold medallists to world champions, penned an open letter from Athlete Ally and Women’s Sports Foundation demanding the IAAF rescind their flawed discriminatory testosterone policy.
I stand firmly alongside these athletes in the pursuit of an equitable and inclusive athletic experience
Spot the difference? Same ocean, same waves, same result, half the money. If you think the gender pay gap isn’t real, look again. Last week, this photo at the Billabong Ballito Surfing Pro Junior Event in South Africa showing female surfer Zoe Steyn taking home just half the money of her male counterpart went viral.
I have less two weeks before I wake up at the slightly more daunting age of 31. Turning 30 didn’t bother me at all, I leapt into it with a big smug smile on my face, a bottle of organic prosecco, a handsome man by my side and a bonfire surrounded by my friends. 31 feels a little more ominous for some reason. I have that threatening impression I should be more by now, I should have more, I should do more. I’m creeping up towards 40 with none of the things in order that my 20 year old self naively thought I would have in order. Instead of flying into an inauspicious panic, I sat down to write down all the things I’ve learnt in the last year.
I occasionally worry that my overt honesty will have me ostracised completely, but in the mean time let me impart my wisdom on you here…
A lot of you have been asking about my swimwear over the past few months, so I thought I’d update and repost my sustainable swimwear guide. I try to buy everything I wear consciously and not fall into the consumerism trap too often (all though I'm occasionally slip up and find myself on the high street).
Side Note: This is not an ad. I don’t have any sponsors and I pay for all my swimwear, these are just genuinely the brands I wear and love. In no particular order...
This is the first in a series of overly honest product reviews, bought to you by some cringe worthy experiences, one photo of my bum and a small amount of credit card debt.
After sharing my mooncup woes a lot of you requested feedback on my knickers, because, lets be honest now, how many pairs of your regular underwear has aunt flo destroyed? I know, i know. ALL. OF. THE. PAIRS. Including that very favourite pair that I refuse to throw away, even with the stains.
So here goes, the first in the series of overly honest product reviews is the much awaited, worryingly frequently requested, she thinx period panties. I'm sharing this because 100 million girls are missing school just because of their periods. Lets break the period taboo.
I was really happy to see Chelsea FC making progressive steps toward gender equality in the news last week with the name change of their club from Chelsea Ladies FC to Chelsea FC Women. After reading some news that seemed to skim passed the change like it wasn't important, and a couple of articles that began to look a bit deeper into the issue, I wrote an opinion piece that delved a bit further into explaining the importance of language when talking about women's sport and female athletes.
I have a love hate relationship with festivals. The issue that leaves me stuck at the checkout wondering whether to purchase the tickets, is that I'm not normally left with good memories of the music, but memories of the sea of crushed plastics underneath our feet. Memories of abandoned tents as far as your eyes can see.
The plastic and waste in general left behind at festivals is heart breaking if you open your sore eyes to see it. In an economy that lists homelessness as a big problem – this seems so wasteful it should be a crime.
I chatted to Boardmasters for ‘Beyond The Break’ - a lifestyle series focusing on surfers who shape the surf scene and beyond; diving into their lives and getting to know them beyond the break.
I really enjoyed the interview and found the questions quite refreshing compared to the normal "What would you take to a desert island?" questions i get asked, so thought i'd share it here also. [side note: i'd take a snorkel and mask, obviously]
Wow! What a great panel discussion we had last night at the ACM POP UP x WOMEN IN ACTION SPORTS.
We delved into the often murky waters of how women are represented in action sports, what was normalised for us in our experiences, challenged the status quo and gained a refreshing and inspiring insight on how was can all contribute towards positive change.
Noura’s father made her contractually marry her cousin when she was 16, she refused to accept and sought refuge with a relative for three years. She returned after her father said the marriage was cancelled, but had been tricked and was forced into marriage. She refused to consummate the marriage for the first 4 days. On the 5th day her husband got his brother and 2 nephews to hold her down and he raped her. The following day, he attempted to rape her again and as she struggled to stop him, she stabbed him in self defence. Her father handed her over to the police.
This week Noura was found guilty of premeditated murder and has been officially sentenced to death by hanging.
Meet Kadiatu Kamara. She is the first and only woman surfing in Sierra Leone. Let’s make the surfing industry healthier, more diverse and more inclusive, by helping her get to the 2020 Olympics.
Black Girls Surf is an empowerment and development surf camp that supports black girls and women whose career goals are competing in the professional surfing. Through the fundraising efforts they have been able to send athletes to compete and train with professionals to ensure that they are prepared.
It seems I’m becoming increasingly political in my old age. I know this post may be a little controversial, I know it will be met with resistance, but I care, I really care. And I want more men to care about this too.
In Ireland, abortion remains both illegal and taboo. Abortion is outlawed even in situations of rape or incest. Reality is however, that abortion is not rare, and this law serves to affect the disadvantaged and the vulnerable.
On the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013, I encourage you to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.
When we demand, they listen.
Since Fashion Revolution started, thousands of brands are being more open about where their clothes are made. Let’s encourage other brands to do the same.
Often when I open up a discussion about women’s issues, such as the over sexualisation of female athletes, violence against women, or the exploitation of female factory workers in developing countries, the natural discourse tends to be someone asking “what about the men?”
In itself, nothing is wrong with this question, and I fully acknowledge that our patriarchal culture and stereotypical forms of masculinity are seriously damaging for men too. But when the discourse is always “what about the men?” it tends to become disruptive of the conversation that is taking place, and has the effect, whether intended or otherwise, of silencing women’s voices on important issues.
While I was in London this week I met up with my friend Matt Barr for lunch, and we had a good little catch up on the whole media farrago I was in over the last couple of weeks.
We discuss some pretty complex and complicated issues about the relationship between surfing and gender, like how the surfing industry tends to publicly support male dominance, how this builds a culture that serves to support patriarchal ideology, and why I feel it's unhealthy for everyone no matter their gender identity or expression. We also talk about the need for a greater diversity of female role models in surfing to avoid the damaging monoculture we are so often presented with, and touch on the complex issue of the people who ask "what about the men?!".
Human Rights Filmmaker, Journalist, Photographer, Woman, Storyteller, Yoga Instructor, Realist and many other things.
Dearblha is the most humble person I know and one of my favourite humans, Since meeting her my life motto has become “be more like Dearblha.” I’m so proud to call her my friend.
Dearblha spends her free time immersing herself in the culture of conflict war zones, getting to know the inhabitants capturing deeper elements of the stories of war, sexual violence and the biggest refugee crisis in history. From Congo, to Gaza and Haiti, Dearblha raises awareness and humanises the stories of the suffering in conflict war zones to make them relatable to those more fortunate, and we owe it to them to listen.
I’m constantly asking myself this and I’m still figuring it out.
I have a responsibility with this platform and my position in a time where people are listening. I know it’s a calling. I know I no longer want to be characterised by my aesthetic. What can I be doing here? Is it enough? Is it beneficial? How can I speak more powerfully? What more can I do in my day to day life?
I also know there are many flaws in my character, but hopefully I have some redeeming features too. I’m not entirely good, I haven’t always made the best decisions. I also haven’t always had the support network around me that I do now.
Lets take it slow, be responsible, maybe even commit to a long term relationship? After all, loved things are worth repairing.
Exactly a year ago, I started cold water sea swimming in the wild Irish Atlantic with some of the women in my little village. We called our morning meets #risefierce and it quickly became an addiction, cleansing us of whatever shit we were carrying and keeping us present in the moment, reminding us that while it might be challenging, we are alive and it still feels good…
This morning I went live with Jenni Murry on BBC Radio 4 Women's Hour. We discussed the sexualisation of female athletes, the damagaing monoculture we are all too often presented with in the media, and the importance of more diverse role models.
I was terrifed, you can probably hear my heart racing, but I did it anyway.
A massive thank you to the Independent for giving me the opportunity to share my voice. Especially to Chloe Hubbard, Assistant Editor, who was the first female journalist to reach out to me, and Rachael Revesv, Commissioning Editor, for editing like a boss and allowing me to keep my voice.
When the news isn't news and last years blog post is taken out of context, spun into something negative and splattered all over the internet.
In a week where Marielle Franco was shot dead, Palestinian children remain imprisoned and their human rights violated, a week where thousands of women worldwide suffered FGM, whilst the Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow exponentially, a car bomb killed 14 in Somalia, and 28,300 people were forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution each day, my story seems fairly irrelevant. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m not sure why this week an article I wrote last year has been splashed all over the papers, my words taken out of context and the true meaning completely overlooked, when there are such hugely devastating and pressing issues all around us.
This has happened to me before and I have kept quiet. I am not a young girl any more, and I will stand up for my voice to be represented clearly and correctly.
I am finally hosting my first ever retreat. Not somewhere tropical, but on my doorstep. This is not just another surf & yoga retreat...
This is your chance to immerse yourself in rural West Ireland, embrace the outdoors and to blow away the cobwebs while stretching your body, calming your mind and soothing your soul.
This retreat experience, created by myself and friend Michelle Moroney who has been teaching yoga full time since 2003, is aimed at empowering women to discover their passions and create lasting change. During this 4-night retreat, through a balance of yoga, outdoor adventure and relaxation, Michelle & I will take care of the agenda so you can really let go and enter into retreat mode.