With almost 25,000 women and counting, Latinx woman, Vanessa Yeager, created the world's largest community of female surfers.
When you think of a California surfer girl, you probably imagine an athletic young girl with bleach blonde hair and sun kissed skin who's spent her whole life on the beach. Perhaps an image so prominent in surf ads created by big surf brands like Roxy in ad campaigns like Roxy Girl.
Vanessa Yeager is anything but a "Roxy Girl". This Newport Beach based, self proclaimed "curvy latina" grew up in the inland empire swimming and water-skiing with her step-dad. At age 14 she knew that surfing would become a part of her life long vision board.
Meet Vanessa Yeager
In episode 02 of Confessions of a Surf Lady we discuss the topic: How do you feel about the way women are represented in the surf industry with Vanessa. Get to know her with some highlights from her episode.
What inspired you to start the Woman Who Surf Facebook group?
I've always been into surfing since I was really young and I always was interested in the history of surfing and women who surf. I actually did my high school senior project on the history of surfing. Women Who Surf, that was literally the title. So, it's pretty ironic now that this group is called Women Who Surf because it was originally called Surf Mommas. I was a new mom and I wanted to surf and I thought, well, if I can find other moms or other female surfers, then we could help each other out and create a little community of surfing women.
What was your experience picking up surfing?
My parents have always been extremely supportive. Even if they didn't quite understand what I was up to. My father who raised me, my stepdad. He's from Trinidad. He was a PE teacher in downtown LA his whole life. He was a major influence for me. He water skied, so he taught me how to water ski and swim. I grew up in Morena Valley. I had a pool in my backyard. I was pretty fortunate in that I had all this experience in swimming. So, when I discovered surfing for the first time and I was super turned on by it, like, Oh my gosh, this is awesome.
"Here I am a girl from Moreno Valley. Who's like half Mexican, half Puerto Rican. Who's writing papers on surfing and history of women's surfing."
When I was 14 I dove deep into studying surfing, watching surf videos and getting all the magazines, like Surf Girl magazine, like any magazine I could find. I started wearing like all Roxy. My mom thought it was a little silly. But she was sweet, she supported it. I told my mom "Mom, this is my dream". So I did my high school senior project on surfing. Here I am a girl from Moreno Valley. Who's like half Mexican, half Puerto Rican. Who's writing papers on surfing and history of women's surfing.
I just did it, step-by-step man. Getting the equipment and moving out here was definitely what really moved everything forward for me. I lived in Newport Beach and I was like, okay, I could surf every day now. That's pretty much what I've been doing since I got here.
Surfing was always on the vision board. I was like, I just got to move to the beach. So I moved out here to Newport beach. I just kind of took it into my own hands. My mom was cool. She bought me a wetsuit when I was 15. My mom got me an old board and I worked at Pizza Hut, I saved my money. I would come down to Huntington Beach on main street and put money on layaway for boards. I just did it, step-by-step man. Getting the equipment and moving out here was definitely what really moved everything forward for me. I lived in Newport Beach and I was like, okay, I could surf every day now. That's pretty much what I've been doing since I got here.
How do you feel about the way women are represented in the surf industry?
Well, I would say that I think it came a long way and there's been some positive changes that I've seen since starting this group five years ago. It’s a beautiful thing. I'm seeing a lot more women out there that are different shapes and sizes, different cultural backgrounds. I just think that we're moving in a forward, positive direction and it's just cool to see. I'm glad that it's happening in my lifetime.
For more inspiring surf lady content and to learn more about Vanessa Yeager, listen to episode 02 of Confessions of a Surf Lady. Listen here or on all major podcast platforms.
Confessions of a Surf Lady Podcast is brought to you by The Surf Société.
Step Up Your Surf Game
The Surf Société is our online women's surf community dedicated to empowering women in the lineup through progressing our surf skills, building confidence, and pushing ourselves in challenging surf conditions.
Won't you join us?