Monday Mailbag

monday-mailbagHappy Female From Aruba
Over the years I’ve read more magazines than I’ve surfed. Not only this magazine, but others as well. Then I started noticing too many advertisements and narrowed my choices down to two. But I have a winner now. As a surfer I’ve always enjoyed reading TransWorld Surf, but it always missed something…until now. When I saw the august 2010 issue on the rack I screamed like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert. A FEMALE on the cover. Oh man! Even though I’m from a very small island nation and I don’t surf perfect waves, it didn’t matter, because the article hit right at home. To me you just BLEW the competition away (if you have any). Thank you (masha danki)! One small step for the female surfers on Aruba….
Zetsia from Aruba

Thanks for the kinds words, Zetsia! One thing though, stop reading so many magazines and get out there and surf!

Mad Female From Canada
So, I'm in the airport looking for something to read, and I saw TransWorld Surf with a woman on the cover. Marketing hint here: women surf – and they like feeling like they're recognized as part of the audience for magazines like this…including quote unquote "aspirational role models". This is what drew me to purchase the August issue. A woman on the cover and the theme of female surfers – perhaps there would be more for me to relate to than the majority of surfing magazines usually have.

Darlene Conolly's article touches on this issue – talking about how women's surfing is "sexy" and that's why it sells, and acknowledging that looking good in a bikini is a big part of women's pro surfing and how that might impact body image. But the overall tone just accepts this as the way it is rather than stating how f-ed up it is. I'm sorry, I don't think that a female surfer's chance of getting a contract should depend on anything but how talented she is – whether or not she looks good in a bikini or chooses to wear something more comfortable instead. It's not modeling, it's a sport.

But the biggest disappointment for me, which all of the above only added to, was the overall audience the issue was obviously written for. It wasn't written for me, for women who surf. Despite the classic "male gaze" going on I would argue that it wasn't even written for the majority of men. It was assuming an audience of bro-tarded adolescents, who need to be given five reasons to care about women's surfing (p.74), only one of which has anything to do with the surfing, or apologies for showing a woman surfing in a wetsuit!?!! (p.104). I think you underestimate your audience. I know lots of men who don't need to be insulted by the assumption that they need to see ass before they're going to care about female surfing. They're interested in what the women can DO, not what they look like. It would be really, really nice to see female surfing portrayed in a manner that doesn't reinforce that trope that the ultimate arbiter of a woman's value is how sexy she is. You do talk about these women’s talent and hard work, but the appearance bit is ALWAYS part of it….something I just don’t see in photo blurbs or interviews or discussions about the guys. Can’t we ever not have to worry about how hot we look, but instead be able to just focus on how good we are at something?

Don't get me wrong – kudos for showing a woman on your cover, and for showcasing many more talented women in the pages of this issue. It's a great first step, and I commend you for it. But, try harder, please? You might find a whole new market segment to tap into if you could publish a magazine that doesn't annoy this woman so much I felt the need to sit down and write a letter to the editor about it.
Kathy C.
Vancouver, BC, Canada

We appreciate your feedback Kathy. The thing is, an ugly surfer is an ugly surfer no matter what sex they are and ugly people generally don't make for a nice photo. It's a harsh and unfair world out there… deal with it and keep ripping that cold ass water up there.

Wax Challenged
In the old days, we used to melt paraffin in an old coffee can on the stove and brush it on our boards to wax them. That gave us a great wax base for the season. With today’s new waxes, is pre-melting and brushing still a good idea, or can I get a good base just by rubbing the wax on my board?
Roger L.
St. Johns, Florida

Wow, where have you been for the last 30 years? In prison? Anyway, there is no need to go melting paraffin wax in a coffee can. Get yourself to a nearby surf shop and buy a bar of "base coat" wax. After you apply that, put wax that is suited for the water temp (it should be labeled), you'll be surfing in on, dust off your beaver tail wetsuit, and get out there.

Aqua Dump Advice
My friend claims he met some guys who would drop a deuce in the water while keeping a wetsuit on. Have you heard of any techniques for this? I can’t figure out how it is possible.
Kurt K.
Milwaukee, WI

Just keep trying, I'm sure you'll figure it out sooner rather than later… let us know how it goes.

Best Way To Go Over The Falls
What is the best way to protect yourself when getting sucked over the falls? Obviously, the best answer is don't go over them, barring that, is it better to assume the fetal position or try and stay flexible and go with the turbulence? As an East Coast surfer most of my breaks are sand bottom. Fetal position results in a professional sand blasting but what about rock and reef break locations?
Lee Garvin
New York

Finally something I'm actually an expert in; going over the falls. I think the best advice is to keep your arms above your head in anticipation of hitting the bottom, whether it be sand, rock, or reef.

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