Photography by Amanda Peres and Marisa Megan.
Amanda Peres | @amandaperes__
You might not believe it, but girls in Brazil still grow up being taught that if they play traditionally male sports, they’re going to become social outcasts and boys won’t like them. Even in the most football obsessed nation in the world, girls don’t play football in school.
The surf world is no different. While the men are making world headlines, Brazilian female surfers are getting left behind. Thankfully though, there are some amazing women who are actively fighting to get the girls their place in the limelight.
I went down to Campeche Beach to meet Tina Viela after her heat in the Campeche Surf Club competition. Tina is the the head of the growing movement called “Movimento Elas Também Dropam,” which in Portuguese means “Girls Shred Too.”
Meninas Também Dropam (MBT) is a community of females surfers based in Florianópolis, Brazil – an island in the south of Brazil known for being a natural paradise with world-class waves.
The group, which is 3,000 strong on Facebook (and rapidly growing), meets most weekends on Fridays or Saturdays on different beaches around the island. They offer functional training, on the sand and in the water surf training, yoga classes, surf photography and free equipment use for female surfers.
All meetings are 100% free, and welcome kids so that mothers, who are frequently exclusively tasked with childcare even in dual parent homes in Brazil, won’t have to miss out.
The only rule is no teeny bikinis allowed – or, at least not ones that aren’t under lycra or wetsuits. Tina makes this rule because of her passion in the fight against gender stereotypes in male dominated sports – both those that keep girls out, and those that sexualize the girls who are in.
“Women want to be taken serious as athletes, to have someone looking at them because they rip, not because of they’ve got a nice bum.”
A recent event surf competition in Praia do Forte showed that in Brazil, it takes dedicated female advocates of the sport to make space for female surfing. Natalie Martins, a former junior Brazilian champion, competed in the event, which only added female surf to the line up when ex-professional surfer Marina Werneck, seeing there was no female category, took it upon herself to organize the woman’s portion of the event.
“There’s a lack of love, desire and respect for the cause [of feminine surf].” Said Martins in an interview with Alma Surf. “This competition in Praia do Forte was one of the best competitions I have participated in in my life in terms of the prizes, and it without Marina Werneck, who took it upon herself to make this beautiful event, it wouldn’t have been possible. We need more people like her. Marina shows us what is possible [for female surf].”
Tina and the MTB movement are also showing us what is possible for female surfing in Brazil. Tina herself was recently named chair of Female Surfing for Santa Catarina state, a position which she pushed into existence.
“When the movement [of female surfers] began to grow I went to the Surfing Associate to see who took care of woman’s surfing.” Recalls Tina. “They said that there was no one that did that. When I told them they needed to have someone looking after the interests of the girls, they told me if it was so important to me, I should do the job. So I said I would. “
A movement that started in Florianopolis has quickly spread, and sister groups have popped up in several other southern cities, each writing Tina and asking if they could be associated with the MTB group.
“What’s amazing to me that people don’t want to start their own groups, they want to be part of a movement. Women were needing this. Its hard to make changes on your own, but as sisterhood we can really make a difference.”