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Plus Size Women in Surfing: Interview with Badass Surfer Girl Kanoa Greene + List of Inclusive Swimwear Boutiques! by  Juliet Poucher

Plus Size Women in Surfing: Interview with Badass Surfer Girl Kanoa Greene + List of Inclusive Swimwear Boutiques! by Juliet Poucher

On the outside, the surfing community may come off as a bit intimidating or impossible to join due to its high demand of fitness. Sometimes it may even come off as unwelcoming not only for plus size women, but for all women. Surfing has been dominated by males and females who look more like models for quite some time now. Thankfully, we have some revolutionary women who strive to change this. Bo Stanley, Silvana Lima, and Sarah Schacht have all spoken out about this stigma of plus size surfers. Stanley and Lima have been deemed to be "top female surfers" in the surfing world and they discuss how their bigger bodies make them feel even more powerful in the water. Stanley is now considered a plus size model, providing further representation on "what a surfer girl should look like." Then in Schacht's article, "Surfing and The Myth of the Bikini Body", she says, "My body is an uncomfortable anomaly, a rejection of our society's association of athleticism and health with thinness...but when I surf, I feel powerful, challenged, and joyous." She also states, "Catching waves is life affirming and empowering for women", not just for petite women.

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I have had the absolute pleasure of conducting an interview with Kanoa Greene who is a fitness coach/motivator, Instagram influencer, and beautiful plus size athlete who has engaged in many demanding sports just for fun as seen on her social media. She aspires to influence other bigger women to not hold back from trying new things and to do hard things to promote growth. Greene always seems to have a smile on her face and her joy is absolutely contagious. Seeing her progress in surfing on Instagram is incredibly inspiring and I was curious to how she was able to overcome the negative thoughts and anxiety about going into these things.

Q: When and how did you get into surfing?

KANOA: I wanted to try surfing for years, but I was under the belief that as a plus-size woman I couldn’t because I had never seen someone who looked like me in a magazine, TV, or the Internet surfing before. I let fear and doubt keep me from taking that first step until I was invited to Costa Rica last year to be a plus-size fitness model for the launch of 124 West's body-positive yoga and surf clothing line empowering active women of all sizes. Thankfully, I didn't need to know how to surf at the time, but one of the requirements as a contracted model was that we would agree to be photographed while taking surf lessons. I did not hesitate accepting the offer because it was an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and do something I had dreamt of doing for a very long time, but it also provided me with a platform to show other plus-size women that it’s possible. I fell off of that board maybe a million times those first couple of days, but then finally surfing my first wave...I was completely hooked.

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Q: When and how did you get into surfing?

KANOA: I wanted to try surfing for years, but I was under the belief that as a plus-size woman I couldn’t because I had never seen someone who looked like me in a magazine, TV, or the Internet surfing before. I let fear and doubt keep me from taking that first step until I was invited to Costa Rica last year to be a plus-size fitness model for the launch of 124 West's body-positive yoga and surf clothing line empowering active women of all sizes. Thankfully, I didn't need to know how to surf at the time, but one of the requirements as a contracted model was that we would agree to be photographed while taking surf lessons. I did not hesitate accepting the offer because it was an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and do something I had dreamt of doing for a very long time, but it also provided me with a platform to show other plus-size women that it’s possible. I fell off of that board maybe a million times those first couple of days, but then finally surfing my first wave...I was completely hooked.

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Q: What do you think has been the biggest challenge about surfing?

KANOA: Overcoming the disbelief that I'm not strong enough, fit enough or capable enough. I live a very active and fit lifestyle, but when people see me, they automatically discount the fact that I could possibly do something as challenging as surfing...and a lot of times I still have to fight against internalizing those same disbelieving thoughts and believe in the reality that I really can do anything at any shape or size.

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Q: Did you face any criticism during your learning process?

KANOA: My biggest critic has always been me. I have been surrounded by nothing, but support and encouragement this entire journey even on social media. I couldn't have asked for a more amazing surf instructor like Alvaro Dormus of Salt Water Surfing Co. who is equally skilled in building both a surfer's technique and confidence on the board.

I was on my third day of lessons with Alvaro when I was completely discouraged because I hadn't been able to get up on the board. I was spending hours in the water, wiping out over and over again to the point where I became frustrated at myself and started to question whether or not I could actually do it, but then Alvaro spoke words that helped change my perspective. He told me that being a great surfer has nothing to do with getting up on the board or falling off a million times. The best surfers are the ones who are out there laughing the most and having fun! Once I focused on that, it changed the game for me.

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Q: As a body positive fitness coach and motivator, you live an incredibly active life! Do you live by any particular diet to help maintain that?

KANOA: For me, I recognize that food has the ability to not only fuel my body to do the things that I love, but it also helps my body adequately recover from such an active lifestyle. With that being said, my main priority is having a healthy relationship with food above anything else instead of a list of rules filled with do's and don'ts. As a woman who has recovered from an eating disorder, I am constantly tweaking and adjusting to find the balance that works best for me and that helps me thrive physically, mentally and emotionally. If it doesn't bring you joy then it's not worth it!

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Q: You seem to have an upcoming surf + yoga retreat, can you tell us a bit more about that?

KANOA: I had such an amazing experience in Costa Rica as a plus-size woman learning to surf for the first time that I knew I wanted to create the first ever body-positive surf + yoga retreat that didn't just say it catered to women of ALL shapes and sizes, but truly focused on helping plus-size women feel safe, supported and empowered to not just surf, but leave knowing that they can do ANYTHING!

We are launching our first retreat in Florida, USA in Spring 2020. For more information, visit Body Positive Surf & Yoga Retreats.

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Q: Is there any type of physical or mental preparation you would recommend before going into the water?

KANOA: I am a big believer that you can conquer any adventure regardless of shape and size, but I am also an advocate of setting yourself up for success and gaining the strength, flexibility or stamina your body may need to make your adventure as safe and enjoyable as possible. Paddling out in the ocean, doing a pop-up on your board and riding a wave are all physically intense activities so I always recommend adding some strength and agility training to your regimen before hitting the ocean. But at the end of the day, remember that even if you don't get up on your board after your first dozen tries, it doesn't mean you aren't meant to do it. Just keep trying and don't give up!

In our online Body Positive Fitness Community, I help women around the world gain the health and fitness they need to live their best life...whether it's climbing Machu Picchu, surfing your first wave or reaching any goal that fits YOUR lifestyle. You can learn more about our fitness community at Together Fit Fitness Community.

To see more about what Kanoa does, follow her on Instagram at @kanoagreene and find her "7 Tips for Plus Size Surfers" link in her bio!

WHERE TO FIND PLUS SIZE SWIMSUITS/SURF SUITS

** 124 West---recommended by Kanoa Greene!

INTERNATIONAL BODY POSITIVE FESTIVAL The Curvy Fest Sept 20-22 in Cancun, Mexico!!!

INTERNATIONAL BODY POSITIVE FESTIVAL The Curvy Fest Sept 20-22 in Cancun, Mexico!!!

Adventures in Sewing: Stitching my Way to Gender Euphoria by Mara Kissinger

Adventures in Sewing: Stitching my Way to Gender Euphoria by Mara Kissinger

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