"Exhibiting You" - Story


By: Elizabeth Pepin
Submitted: 04/09/2010

While women have been sliding down the face of waves since surfing’s inception, their skill and daring has been, for the most part, marginalized in surf culture, and their place in surf imagery has often been relegated to shots of thin bikini-clad young women sitting on the beach, rather than as active participants.
In 1986, I stood up on a surfboard for the first time, beginning an obsession with surfing that has spanned nearly a quarter of a century. I quickly discovered a lack of women’s surf imagery so in 1997, I embarked on a photographic journey to document the exploding women’s surf scene. My series now spans more than a decade and emphasizes the strong, beautiful waterwomen I meet on the beach and in the water all over the world. Unlike the portrayal of women surfers in popular culture, the women in my photos come from many different backgrounds and are of all shapes, sizes, ages and surfing abilities. I'm just as interested in photographing a teenage girl learning to ride her first board or mother with small children who carves out one day a week to get out into the water, as I am capturing the action of a seasoned pro. My images help viewers understand why women decide to surf and in what ways the sport has impacted their lives. The main objective of my photographs is to make women -- both surfers and non-surfers alike -- feel better about themselves, and to acknowledge them in a positive way as athletes and enthusiasts. I hope to act as an agent of positive change, dispelling myths and altering the way all women are portrayed in the media.

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