“It Ain’t Pretty” is an amazing documentary about women surfers. If, when you think about a female surfer your mind wanders to Sandra Dee as “Gidget” (1959), then you have no idea what the sport of surfing means to die hard female surfers. Yes, there have been a few feature films highlighting women surfers, namely “Blue Crush” (2002) and “Soul Surfer” (2011), they don’t tell the story of what it takes to be a true big wave surfing woman, especially in today’s world.
Even though the sport is rising among female surfers, sexism still runs rampant in the sport, as in most every other area in life and sports. Big wave surfing is a dangerous and challenging sport for men and women, yet the women have had to take a back seat to the men. This documentary looks at a group of women surfers from the San Francisco Bay area and their lives on and off the water.
The women have bonded. After all, there are not as many women in the sport as there are men. But these women are just as dedicated to their love of big wave surfing. These women are in good physical condition, have a love of surfing, and enjoy the friendships that they have formed. Many of them are mothers. They want to show their children that they can follow their dreams, whether they are boys or girls. Passion for whatever they want to do is important.
The stories of these women are inspiring and the footage of the surfers out on the water is amazing. This documentary was filmed in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and Mavericks, the place in Northern California that often generated some of the biggest waves on the planet.
The film begins with the group of women discussing their biggest wipeouts. Listening to their stories of horror and the injuries they sustained might make someone wonder why they continue to surf. It is simple. They have a passion for surfing. This documentary, directed by Dayla Soul, is meant to show how far women have come in the sport and how much farther they have to go, and to inspire young girls to overcome their fears and follow their passions.
“It Ain’t Pretty” has received high recognition among the documentary film community as well as the surfing community. Highlighting the stories of Bianca Valenti, Easkey Britton, Savannah Shaughnessy, and others, the film serves as not only an entertaining film about the history of surfing in Northern California, but also a reminder that women need to continue their fight to gain the same recognition as men. Fighting against the stereotypic view of skinny, bikini-clad women, these women show that they have not only the heart but also the stamina to compete. And they have a great outlook on life.
Whether young or old, women have been surfing for decades and those who made their mark on the sport in the bay area reminisce about their lives, the times, and the sport. It’s an inspiring film to watch with your daughters.
“It Ain’t Pretty” is available on digital HD formats.