Black Female Surfers Hair Care: How These Women Are Reclaiming the Ocean

Mariette Blaides started out surfing in Hawaii at a time when, as she describes it, “tiny girls in tiny bikinis represented the surf entire world.” As a curvy Black lady herself, she at first felt intimidated but little by little discovered by seeing YouTube films and checking out local surf retailers to check with concerns. She discovered her new pastime enjoyable and exhilarating, but it swiftly turned into perform when it came to protecting her thick and coily hair.

“I would appear up from a duck dive, and the heaviness of my damp hair would stick to my deal with and block my respiratory,” states Blaides. She experimented with to mimic other surfers who would basically flip their hair out of their faces, but hers just did not transfer the exact. What is a lot more, Blaides’s hair turned brittle and dry right after staying stripped of moisture from hrs in the ocean at a time. “My curls would not curl and brush-outs ended up just about unachievable,” she claims.

I grew up in Hawaii the time I was six years previous right until my preteen several years. I fell in appreciate with the ocean and did each type of drinking water sport—from human body browsing and snorkeling to diving—until my household relocated to the Virginia Seashore region, where I gave in to the pressures of seeking to fit in and got a relaxer. This ended my romance with the ocean. I could not submerge myself in water, for concern of messing up my straightened hair. 

We are not by itself in our ordeals. In reality, a lot of Black athletes have felt minimal and held back again by their hair, owing to the absence of means, education and learning, and acceptance in just the sports activities and exercise environment. In accordance to a analyze by Perception Institute, 1 in 3 Black girls cites their hair as the reason they have prevented work out in the earlier, as opposed with 1 in 10 white women.

For some Black feminine surfers, thoughts close to the activity are even far more advanced. L. Renee Blount, a inventive strategist and athlete, felt the exact same struggles. “Once you sweat, you reduce the straightness in your chemically processed hair and can gain numerous judgments,” she suggests. Blount found herself at odds with her like for browsing and the toll on her hair-care program. She finally determined to go natural. “I required to surf, swim extra, cycle, and run with no contemplating about my hair initial,” she states. “I place my wellness to start with.” 

Brennan Maine, a surfer in Hawaii, used to have on box braids but give up the design and style simply because it “felt hefty and the synthetic hair was really proscribing.” Due to the fact heading all-natural, she’s arrive to value the way her hair seems and feels. “I like the shade the solar turns my hair and the emotion of not hiding,” she states. “I’m not sure I would come to feel that way if I had the force to maintain chemically comfortable hair or straightened hairstyles.”

It’s no shock that hair care for Black surfers goes largely untalked about, due to the fact the activity has very few Black professionals to seem up to. According to Surfer Now, approximately 23 million folks surf around the world. There are no quantities out there on what share are Black even so, for the duration of the 2020 Women’s Qualifying Series in the Entire world Surf League, of the 261 female athletes competing, only a handful had been nonwhite. In the 2022 Planet Surf League rankings of prime 20 surfers, there is not a one Black lady on the checklist.