We recently asked Lauren Hill all about her new film Pear Shaped and what it means to be a female surfer today. From nip slips to snot face, you know this girl has got some interesting stories to tell, read all about it below.
Tell us what the film is about and who's in it?
Surfing tends to take itself pretty seriously. And women’s surfing carries the extra burden of not only having to be serious, but also be sexy – which, in unison, can be really boring. I wanted to poke fun at all that by exploring a couple of the absurdities from the everyday realities of being a woman in the water: rogue tampon strings, snot face, wardrobe malfunctions, etc. Pear Shaped is a tip of the cap to the people who shrug off the unique challenges of surfing and choose to go anyway. The film stars surfer Pacha Light, former WQS surfer Charlotte Hand, creative/writer Sabrina Sterk, and rock ‘n Roll goddess Mylee Grace, plus lots of local ladies lending their surfing skill and voices. Dave Rastovich and Ozzy Wright also make cameo appearances.
Why did you decide to make this film?
A couple of years ago I watched a ridiculous web clip put out by a men’s magazine called “How to Take A Wetsuit Off,” which portrayed a “surfer girl” peeling off her wetsuit super sexily, with hose water spraying past her mouth, cleavage galore, etc.. It was softly pornographic and, mostly, just completely out of touch with reality. Anyone who’s taken off a wetsuit knows it’s probably one of the most unflattering things you could ever do with a body. This was sort of the impetus for exploring a handful of the often idealized or sexualized aspects of being a female surfer – and the way social media normalizes an unattainable body image.
Imagine a typical day in the surf - how many of these things have happened in real life to you or women you know?
Every single one of the scenes have happened to either myself or someone I know.
In your experience over the last decade, have you found that attitudes towards women in the surf are changing? Does it depend on where you are in the world?
In most places, yes, there are so many women surfing now that there’s no choice but to be more open to all kinds of people sharing the line-up. However, there are still plenty of waves around the world, and even in our backyard here in the Shire, where it’s still common to be the only woman in the water – and attitudes in those kind of testosterone-rich line-ups can range from welcoming to pretty heavy.
Images from @theseakin on Instagram
Looking past the comedic aspects of the film, what is the main message you'd like both men and women to get from Pear Shaped?
I think there’s still reluctance to talk about gender and celebrate the fact that men and women are different. For me, feminism isn’t about men and women being the same, it’s about recognizing our differences and honoring them. And, more specifically, making room to acknowledge the feminine and the experiences of women. Pear Shaped is a little look into how the female experience of surfing is, in some ways, very different, and I’d say more complicated than, the male experience of surfing. There’s also probably more room for a good laugh at ourselves, which is such a gift. Mostly, I wanted to remind myself of how insidious social media can be. Looking at unrealistic imagery everyday almost inevitably ignites unnecessary self-criticism via comparison to these detached one-dimensional pictures on our screens. Obviously, I participate in that world, so I wanted to make fun of myself and hopefully spark a conversation or two about how we can more healthfully engage with the digital world.
You may have found a new career path here! Can we expect any more Lauren Hill films in the future?
Pear Shaped will be premiering at the Byron Bay Surf Festival on Feb 25.
Thanks to Caitlin Weatherstone for the interview questions. All images supplied by Lauren Hill.