It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Another noteworthy response to some questions about bodysurfing, which came from a recent thread on a bodysurfing list, came from Melinda Morey. Currently finishing advanced coursework and living on the East Coast of the U.S., Ms. Morey has impeccable waterperson credentials literally from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as well as a good-spirited low tolerance for enviromental testosterone pollution.
I'ts interesting that you define bodysurfing as a subcultural activity and not surfing as well. In this I assume you mean subcultrual in the microcosm of modern day surfing which, as others have already pointed out, has entered into the stream of mass consciousness as an activity (largely due to consumerism in a fetishist mediated culture) ...but I maintain that like skateboarding, surfing is still fairly marginalized in the overall scheme of things, particularly depending on where in the country [U.S. - ed.] you live (I've had people ask me as I'm putting my longboard on the car in Jersey City, NJ "is that a canoe, a snowboard?"...go figure).

As far as being social anomalies...I think these days bodysurfers tend to be like surfers used to be -  more renegade individuals who don't really give a shit what other people think, because they know what they're about. A lot of us also surf. The more toys you have access to, the better to enjoy the ocean. Some days/condistions are better for one or the other activity.

The loyalty to one being better than another is ego stuff - who needs it.

It used to be that most water people learned to bodysurf as kids, as part of their education of the ocean. That has been all but replaced by learning to bodyboard, except in places where overall skills in the ocean are emphasized - Australia being a principle example. Otherwise, from bodyboard to surfing is the progression now. Hence you see most good/serious bodysurfers are over the age of 30 (the boogie board was invented in 1971 - I rest my case).

Most true waterpeople (lifeguards, surfers, bodyboarders, paddlers, etc.) respect others who are highly skilled, regardless of what they ride. Most lifeguards are excellent bodysurfers, water polo players too. Surfers have an advantage because of speed and take off positioning, but respect is there nonetheless - even if grudgingly so.

As far as the "insurmountable" differences's apples and oranges. The two activities are entirely different animals. There is nothing like being immersed in water and feeling that energy rushing around you...when you are on a board, you are on top of it, not in it. Surfing, you are freer of the water's drag being above it...totally different experiences, not better or worse.

It is much harder to catch a wave bodysurfing that surfing. What bodysurfing offers is the opportunity to learn wave judgement, timing, and a more intimate understanding of currents and pulses moving through the ocean. It improves your stamina and conditioning, your confidence in the water, and your ability to help others less able than yourself. These skills translate not only into surfing or other water activities, but to life itself.

Hope that is of use.

A committed waterwoman who does not support factions.


Melinda Morey

Copyright (C) 2002. All rights reserved.