A Letter From Carissa Moore

The Women's World Champ wants the future of women’s surfing to look like this:

| posted on January 14, 2014
Even with a couple of world titles to her name, Carissa Moore plans on going bigger and better. Photo: Mota

Even with a couple of world titles to her name, Carissa Moore plans on going bigger and better. Photo: Mota

This letter originally appeared in our January Issue.

What an exciting year it was. Tyler Wright and I went back and forth in the ratings all year long, with the title finally coming down to the last day of the last event—whoever stayed alive the longest would get to dance in the champagne showers. I can’t believe that it’s all over and I am sitting here with a second world title in my back pocket.

For people who haven’t been paying attention, there are a few things they should know. The girls on Tour are extremely beautiful human beings—inside and out. But they also rip, and are great ambassadors for our sport. We are traveling the world, chasing our dreams, and doing something we love. There are so many negative influences out there transforming women into something they are not. We all represent an active, healthy lifestyle, and every one of us brings something unique: Courtney Conlogue is a great artist, Steph Gilmore loves to play music, Sally Fitzgibbons is a sports fanatic, Sage Erickson loves fashion, the list goes on. I think that there is an X-factor to each of the women on Tour that girls all over the world can relate to and be inspired by.

And I realize there is also the male audience. The women are sexy and fun to look at. Alana Blanchard has brought thousands of eyes to our sport by wearing her small bikini bottoms. I just want everyone to appreciate that she is an athlete as well and she takes what she does seriously. There is a fine line when it comes to sexualizing our sport. If it is overdone we lose respect, but there is a way that the girls can be marketed tastefully.

I’m not going to wear the small bikinis. That’s not me. I’m going to take the more athletic approach. I love surfing, so I want to inspire people through my surfing. I’ll admit, two years ago, I did a sexy photo shoot with a magazine (though I made sure I wore more clothes than a lot of girls who’d done similar shoots in the past). I looked at the pictures and they were beautiful—probably some of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen of myself. But I looked at them and thought, “Young girls look up to me right now because I don’t do that stuff.” I wear clothes. I’m sexy because I leave stuff to the imagination, and I let my surfing do the talking. I ended up pulling the plug on it. The photos never ran. It just wasn’t me. But that’s not to say that Alana or some of the other girls’ approach is bad—in fact, I think it’s great that we all appeal to a different audience. That’s great for our sport.

More than anything, I want to leave behind a Tour that is thriving for the next generation. My rookie year in 2010 was the last time we had a Triple Crown. It was the last time women had an event in Hawaii. The past three years our Tour has ended in beachbreaks in either Europe or California. I would love to see our season finish in Hawaii in big, powerful, challenging waves. I believe that a World Champion should be well rounded. The best surfer should be able to perform in small waves, big waves, barreling waves, high-performance waves, beachbreaks, and reef breaks. Right now most of our Tour is held in small beachbreaks. This year it was great to see the women paddle out in 6- to 8-foot Margaret River, and at Bells Beach we got quality waves and were really given a chance to perform. In every heat the girls were pulling big moves and posting huge scores, and everyone was buzzing about how well we were surfing. There was talk that FUEL TV had one of their highest TV ratings the day that we surfed. Who doesn’t want to watch beautiful women rip apart perfect waves? I think there’s definitely a demand, and I hope in the future we’re provided more waves that really showcase our surfing. I am excited by the addition of a Women’s Tour stop at Lower Trestles, and there’s talk of adding one or two other quality breaks as well. Hopefully through the changes being made to the Tour we’ll be able to share surfing with a broader audience. I am crossing my fingers that next year’s Tour will deliver great waves, because I know the girls will rise to the occasion.

—Carissa Moore
2X ASP Women’s World Champion

  • alohafitness73

    Good article, she’s got the right idea, glad to see my daughter can look up to her.

  • KTC

    Well said Carissa. Unfortunately, women will always have to overcome public and media scrutiny of sexy vs sporty. That’s just how our world is and whether we like it or not we have to face the reality. People are obsessed with images and images sell, especially beautiful ones. We need to let go of this sexy vs sporty argument and continue to focus on showcasing the top women’s surfers in top conditions. Step up to the plate sponsors and bring the tour to Hawaii!! I want to see what these girls can really do in massive surf!! Cheers!

  • jr


  • Trogan Fan

    LOL. So filtered. Just for once can’t someone in surfing say what they really want to say?

  • Marcus B

    My thought is that we should do what we want to do, and not point our fingers to what others do. I just find it very funny that some girls complain about being trated as an object, even though these same girls sell theyrselves as an object. But it’s just a metter of choices and consequences. Let it be.

  • Anne Bagasao

    Thank you Carissa! That’s why my daughter has your photo on her desk. I’ve been saying this same things to mostly men and they just don’t get it. Thank you for such a gracious and intelligent message about woman’s surfing. This is why you are a champ!

  • rock4christ

    You are sooo awesome!

  • Seabass120

    Mucho respect for her. Definitely my favorite female surfer on the tour….bright, athletic, and always has a smile on her face. I hope my daughter grows up to be like her.

  • Nick Hall

    Thanks for these words Carissa, I have three kids (young adults) and they all surf, two girls, one boy. We need heaps more girls/women in the surf. And why not have all the Women’s ASP rounds in quality breaks???

  • Marcus79

    I’d disagree that Carissa doesn’t wear small bikinis. All bikinis are small! Also, surfing is more than a competitive sport and it’s not just about scoring points on a board. It’s a lifestyle and thing of beauty and love for the waves and ocean. If you only value a surfer on how good they are out in the waves then few would beat Alana, male or female as the majority of people who surf are mediocre by comparison to the elite. But that doesn’t devalue them as surfers. I don’t want to be associated with a sport that promotes its elite at the expense of its participants. I’m not a watcher who just wears the gear like other sports. I surf! Alana markets products to females as those tiny togs are being sold to men!

  • J Jaramillo

    Chee Hoo Carissa. Well said. A Great athlete and ambassador for the sport. I was fortunate to greet you at the airport on your first win , Chicken skin for sure. Best to you always. Hope they do have one at Trestle’s , would be epic. Aloha.

  • Mik

    Interesting comments from Carissa, who is an amazing surfer.

    But since she chose use use SURFER as a forum for making a statement, here’s my reaction:

    1. Since when is sexuality, female or male a negative?

    2. Surfing, of all competitive sports, or arts, is as sensual as it is athletic or spiritual.

    3. It is kinda conflicting to say that women are sexy and fun; and then to say that bikinis are un-tasteful — because, why? Because they are sexy and fun?

    4. I think the undercurrent of this article is that Carissa feels challenged by men’s attention going to the more attractive women on tour. And for sure, Sally Fitzgibbons and Alana, and Steph are physically in great shape, and very attractive, on top of being really good surfers. Which does help draw the general surf community’s attention to the Women’s Tour. Sally definitely attracts mine!

    5. To stay fit, as exemplified by the World Champ on the men’s side, take a close look at Kelly’s lifestyle and you will see why he’s got 11 Titles, and counting, and has enjoyed the attention of some world class beautiful women, including his sweetly rad girlfriend: very smart fresh food and generally vegetarian diet, with a very smart use of food supplements; no drugs or alcohol; lengthy Yoga sessions; lengthy strength sessions — and generally avoids red meat. Pay especial attention to that one Carissa, or anyone else who wants to have a lean sexy body: today’s meats are laced with growth hormones to make the animals weigh more when the rancher sells to the slaughterhouse. So when u eat red meat, you are going to put on weight like no generation before you. Look around. These crazily obese Americans are eating themselves beyond fat, and they continue to eat like there is no tomorrow w/no apparent concern for their sexual lives. So if you want to be sexy, you have to look sexy (boys and) girls, and to do that, forget about alcohol and red meat and go Kelly-style. And don’t back-handedly criticize your competitors for having a better handle on their sexuality than yourself.

    6. More contests in better waves? Rad! No one will argue against that one Carrissa. But IMO don’t expect the Women’s Tour to be run coinciding the Men’s, because as much as we like watching sexy fun women, we want to see the Men’s contest segment in Hawaii get the best waves, and the window of opportunity is too small to do both.

    7. Congrats on your 2nd World Title. You earned it.

    • Janie

      I agree with you, especially on #3 and #4. She’s coming off a little jealous here and also defensive. Adding that extra little clarification of Alana, please. It still reads like what it is, Carissa.

      I hope that Steph has a great year and takes the title back. And I hope they do get some larger waves because I feel like Steph trumps Carissa in the bigger swells, especially.

    • Rod-o

      Carissa: Congratulations on your 2nd Title! You’ve worked hard and it’s paid off! Pay no attention to comments from people like Mik or Janie, here. These two do little more than instigate/stir things up where we might ALL be better off if they kept their personal issues to themselves. I don’t hear any jealousy (or defensiveness) in your commentary… (except maybe from Mik or Janie?), only an accurate assessment of the state of the media’s, (and the general public’s) warped sense of what makes competitive females more “palatable/acceptable/desirable”… It sucks, but the sad truth is most people in so-called “modern” culture, and perhaps even more so in the surfing culture, expect women to simply “lay down” and accept their media-given and consumer demanded roles as eye-candy first, talent/character/role model second (if at all). Hat’s off to you for having a brain and an opinion and most of all the courage to call BS when you see it! Perhaps Mik and Janie would prefer you published those pics and just went along with the BS. People like Alana might be better off “success-wise” ($) for showing more than she might like, but women like that don’t really serve the profession NOR the important issue of objectifying women who deserve to be respected as human beings. No one should ever compromise their values for anyone else and you are already showing the world that women don’t need to. Most people are too quick to settle in life for a few moments of fame or a few dollars more… I’m glad you took a stand for something MUCH more meaningful. Here’s to your success in 2014! (Mik: Was she NOT supposed to use SURFER as a forum? She’s the World Champ, knuckle-head! And RED MEAT!?!… Really? I like how you come off like you’re some kind of expert with your bullet-points… FAIL!)

      • Ian Salisbury

        I think the sections in this about expecting women to lay down and accept their roles as unfair. partly because I feel you go to far and your language is far too OTT. There is a problem there but let’s not carried away you’re not Emily Pankhurst, it’s not as bad as you make out. Also I feel that your focus on gender, objectifying women is bad this only ever happens to women is plain wrong, just look at the comments about David Beckham and Wayne Rooney for case in point. The over sexualisation is bad and yer it is worse for women, but it is an asexual issue that we should be attacking. Also people will find people attractive this is not a bad thing. It is interesting reading some people’s comments though because I actually find Carissa More attractive than Allanah. Great surfer and great role model love it!

        • Rod-o

          Ian, I never said it was a woman-only issue… and Thanks for the EP compliment… not my intention here, only to agree with Carissa’s stand for preserving/setting her own boundaries. I have far more respect for women/people who respect themselves enough to say “No”, and not cave in to media (or other) pressure. But I do disagree… it IS this bad. Why do you suppose women earn less than 80% of what an equally qualified male earns, on average? Most women, (and especially if they’re prettier than average, or if they do better than average), if they are confident enough or ticked off enough to speak up about it end up being accused of being capital Bs, or “too masculine”, or somehow portrayed as bad people. Women like Miley are a bad example and will never get a dollar, or a vote or anything else out of me. But there are plenty of men (people) who will gladly throw money at her without a thought to how she might influence their daughters or society in general. Look, people are people, and unfortunately, some people can just plain be jerks… this isn’t something that “the rest of us” should just “lay down” and accept, either. That’s kinda my point here, and the reason I spoke out. Standing by and letting it all play out to the benefit of jerks is just as bad as being one of the jerks. I choose NOT to be one of them, and to support PEOPLE (male or female) who push back against the BS. Minimizing the problem is not going to handle the problem. And, yes, Carissa is attractive… but even more so b/c she has real character. You gotta admit!

      • Kara Hawthorn

        NICE …… omg that guy was such an idiot…..
        unfortunately she seems 2B one of the only classy girls on tour

    • Kara Hawthorn

      sexuality is a negative when u see a photo of it and have that gut feeling of exploitation / “the things I secretly wish my own son or daughter would never do”
      [….. all the while, still rallying 4 freedom …..or maybe freedumb. ]

    • Women&Waves

      my god! you just say this stuff casually but its ridiculous! you want Carissa to try and look sexy, and you don’t understand what the big deal is about promoting yourself as sexy? the big deal is that men will only see women as butts and boobs and not for their talent and that is a huge problem that I and other women are trying hard to write about and focus on because using sexuality is wrong in any sport.

    • Lauren

      We like watching fun sexy women ….. ::vomits in mouth:: cheers to the women who exist on their own accord, not as a pretty object for men to look at!

  • Salty

    What is the purpose of writing this “letter” claiming she will not wear a bikini? Is she being pressured by sponsors or others to wear a bikini? Rings a bit hollow really, when right next to this letter is a picture of her gouging a sick cutback in a bikini..LOL

    • Sheena

      As a female surfer, I have to say that there’s a huge difference between a “bikini” and a “small bikini.” Just google pictures of Alana Blanchard- incredible athlete, but a large part of her fame is due to her “small bikinis” that are really more of a thong. There’s a difference. And whatever pushed Carissa to write this, I think her point is that she wants her surfing to shine & she won’t be pressured into a small bikini to make that happen.

  • Zoe

    Funny thing is your not hot and we dont want to see you in the bottoms anyway, it’s always the non hot girl writing or complaining about this stuff….

    • Ali

      Wow, could you be any more negative and judgmental? Good on you for being a bully and calling out someone is such a horrible way….

    • Bob

      Gotta agree with Zoe on this one.

      • Kara Hawthorn

        great, 11 and a half …. hey u guys should get married….
        now’s your chance for true romance ! ( pretty sure yer last lol )

    • Rebecca

      Zoe she said she doesn’t feel comfortable wearing Alana cut bikinis not that she doesn’t wear bikinis at all. Attraction is in the eye of the beholder, you might not think she is ‘hot’ it doesn’t mean she’s not. She is way hotter than yourself in my eyes because she is a beautiful person inside and out as well as having a brain. Something you clearly lack. I hope being shallow serves you well in this long life.

      • Kara Hawthorn

        exactly….. what is she like, – 12?

    • RuthW

      What a stupid comment.Surfing,or any other sport,whether you are male or female is not a Beauty contest.I feel sorry for you.
      BTW Imagine if sponsors made men do cheesecake advertising in micro sluggos

    • Aussie surfer

      Hi Zoe,being “hot” is not a prerequisite for being a world champion surfer.
      A lot of talent and years of training and hard work are.
      Try it sometime and you might learn respect.You sound very immature.

  • Ted Bassingthwaighte

    Well said Carissa. I saw the way you handled yourself in Newcastle for Surfest when you competed. You are a gem. Hope to see you back in Newcastle for #Surfest2014

  • Steven Flores

    The Women are athletes, marketing has to be done carefully. Ms. Moore, respect your choice to to seen as an Athlete. As a heteral, I do enjoy viewing a nice body on a female surfer, that takes time in the gym and the cardio part is also included. Thank you for sharing this. 2014!
    Music, fashion. . . it’s all cool.

  • Jens Larsson

    Will be cheering for you and your attitude towards your sport to be winners 2014! 🙂

  • Junya Watanabe

    Well said. Although Trogan Fan is right very filtered. What she’s saying is, get them out of the shitty beach breaks and let them surf some heaving slabs and go for fucking broke.

  • bparno

    How right you are Carissa, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your smile on the photo above speaks for itself, and the women on tour all deserve to finish their tour in the home of surfing which is Hawaii. I hope your wish is answered, and yes Alana Blanchard is a beautiful woman, but be mindful also that she was created to be with the beautiful man who was created for her. Aloha.

  • Maria Serra

    Interesting point of view! I’m working on a project which explores women’s participation in action sports from a “design thinking” point of view and sexualisation is one of the issue that female athletes and enthusiasts brings out. If you want to contribute and tell us your personal experience, check–2

  • Beauryan

    Here, here!! Well put. I have two daughters and my wife and I are always trying to make this point. Bravo!!

  • TC

    Right On!

  • Leahi

    I respect ms. Moore, however, this article contradicts her own reality. Surf for fun or competition and don’t preach. Just do it!

  • skywalker

    If you Google image Alana Blanchard you get a lot of hot bum photos.

    If you Google image Carissa Moore you get a lot of wave and ripping photos.

    I think Carissa’s point is a wish that the powers that be (usually a lot of guys in power positions) are thinking with their heads about what females can and should ride rather than their junk. Both men and women have roles in making that happen.

  • Yanca Costa

    Você é sempre será a minha Idola, love u, 😉

  • donald drew weisz

    Best lady Surfer. best lady to represent surfing for are kid’s and all the public ! Congratulations winning the big one dear !

  • Simon Beckett

    Well spoken Carissa…and great catching up with you in Fiji this year. Good luck for 2014 Say hi to your dad and Sis for me 🙂

  • MK

    Carissa YOU ROCK! I am so happy you decided to take another look at what your doing!
    It just goes to show that your focus is honorary and finding the truth in what you do is awesome! Keep kicking butt we will be cheering for you at Lowers!!

  • Tauri D’Eatough

    Thank you Carissa for your eloquent honesty about who you are and what you stand for. I love your power based surfing style and your fearless attitude. It was a pleasure to meet you in person on the beach during one of the Pipeline Masters lay days last December, 2013. In December 2010, I was a spectator at on the beach at Pipeline when the Womens Triple Crown Pipeline Final was run. The four finalists put on a exhibition of surfing deep inside both Backdoor and Pipeline as well as taking some awful wipeouts. It was disappointing that the womens events of the Vans Triple Crown were dropped. You are a great role model. Wishing you success in all your dreams and aspirations.

  • Pingback: We Just Love Carissa | Surf Like A Girl

  • Ruth W

    Thank you Carissa. Moore for saying this .It has a more power coming from you,the world champion,than anyone else.
    Magazines and sponsors who insist on this type of exploitation to sell their product should evolve,and fast.And girls,if you want the real fans to concentrate on your amazing athleticism ,manoeuvres and talent,follow Carissa,Steph,Sally and Tyler who take their jobs seriously,and wear gear you can actually surf in.
    Alana and Laura take note !

  • Lauren

    I love Carissa! Once we start seeing more women as serious athletes in this industry, more girls and women will be inspired to participate, and watch the level of surfing go up from there! This happened with running- previously women were not even allowed to participate in marathons, and a small percentage of runners were women. It wasn’t until a popular runner’s magazine started featuring women on the cover that the number of women runners skyrocketed- a whole industry benefitted from that, if you want to take the capitalist line. When you don’t see yourself represented, you’re not likely to do something. Painfully, I remember thinking this about surfing, as a child. I literally didn’t know girls could surf. At least I started at age 25….but there could be a lot more (and better) female surfers when girls see women represented as athletes that they will emulate.