Textured Waves is a collective of Black female surfers dedicated to inviting women of color and underrepresented demographics into the water.
Founded by Danielle Black Lyons, Chelsea Woody, and Martina Duran in 2019, Textured Waves is shining a light on the people who have always been in ocean recreation spaces but have never really been seen.
Despite surfing’s origins in ancient Polynesia, modern-day surf culture—especially in the United States—does not represent its multicultural roots. From Jim Crow-era laws preventing Black people from being allowed in the water, to the gentrification of coastal towns, surfing began to be perceived as a “white man’s” sport—and surf culture still caters to predominantly white upper middle-class and wealthy communities. The high costs associated with the sport, along with a somewhat homogenous culture, can make women of color in particular feel negatively judged or excluded, because they may not have the resources or community available to feel safe, included, and empowered in the water.
Even though they had been actively surfing for years, the founders of Textured Waves saw that the typical images and stories of surf culture vastly left out women of color.
Realizing that this lack of visibility was preventing many of them from feeling included and represented in the surfing world, they created their own online community to fill the gaps. Textured Waves now operates as a space to encourage underrepresented demographics to enjoy aquatic spaces and learn how to protect them in the process.
Through creative visual storytelling, Textured Waves documents Black and Brown women riding the waves and redefining surf culture. With a climbing following of 20,000 on Instagram, Textured Waves is continually expanding as a network for women all over the world to be included in the conversation. The online and offline communities they have formed across the United States continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment for surfers of any skill level to enjoy.
Reclaiming surfing for women of color is a feat that requires not just storytelling, but also investment in the equipment, coaching, and mentorship resulting in profound changes for the next generation.