Flip through any given surfing magazine and you’ll see people in advertisements laughing wildly or staring blankly into the distance (or maybe even surfing), selling us the things that formulate a look that contributes to what it has come to mean to be a surfer. They show us what we’ll likely be wearing in the immediate future and establish a sense of beauty standards for our culture.
Catherine Clark is a familiar face in the surfing world. Chances are you’ve seen her on a swing tag, billboard or poster as an ambassador for Billabong or Reef. More importantly, Catherine is a talented surfer, artist and singer. We caught up with Catherine to inquire about the pressures of that all too sought after title of ‘model’ and to find out more about the person behind the beauty that the surfing world loves so much.
SK: What was your dream profession as a child?
CC: I always wanted to be a professional surfer. I also wanted to be a ballerina, and apparently I wanted Ken and my dream house too.
SK: What’s your take on the growing number of female surfers posing provocatively or nude for photoshoots? Do you think it helps or hurts women’s surfing overall?
CC: I understand the feeling of wanting to be attractive. I also understand the power it has over us as women. It is in our nature really. We want to find someone, so we think we may come off as more attractive if we put ourselves in these situations. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. It’s like your friend that just loves to shake her booty on the dance floor. And hey, if I didn’t love chocolate so much I may be up there too. Not in a thong bikini, that’s just not my style. I think the unhealthy aspect of it comes in when we, as women, think that is all we have to offer. When we become consumed by the thought that our worth is only skin deep. It really does have the potential to create a terribly unhealthy complex.
SK: Do you think that women’s surfing and men’s surfing are different? Why or why not?
CC: I definitely do. I see girls embodying a lot more grace, while guys are really starting to expand on the potential of the sport. It’s really amazing how surfing has progressed. We are starting to see a variety of truly radical airs and maneuvers. I love watching the surfers that embody the grace within the potential of our free form movement. It’s becoming a bit of a dance between human and nature. Dane Reynolds has taken it the furthest I think.
SK: Being a model/freesurfer probably leaves you with a bit of free time. How do you fill it?
CC: I love making music and painting, rock climbing and hiking. I love cooking and making wire wrap jewelry. My favourite thing of all though is writing. I write every day. Little notes to the self, poems, story ideas, anything really.
SK: What do you believe in?
CC: I believe in the progression of the human spirit. I believe we are gifted beings with the ability to create anything and manifest anything into the world of “material and concrete”. I have come to the realization that it is such a gift, and a fabulous thing that I have the ability, as a human being, to imagine. To simply imagine anything I want. I believe that the integration of unconditional love and compassion into your life opens doors to new possibility, to new ways of thinking and ultimately happiness and peace. I believe, and know, there is a deeper spiritual system at work on this planet. One that has been shadowed, tainted and nearly destroyed by the likeness of the unconscious human mindset. I have come to beautiful moments in my life by respecting the equality and truly magical state of life itself.
SK: As a model, do you feel pressure to act and look a certain way?
CC: For a long time, I was absolutely consumed in image. I was flown to incredible places with Billabong and Reef. I worked with awesome photographers, models, and crews. And the whole time I couldn’t shake a feeling of never being good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough. It was my own personal battle that I never won. And when I did win, it was my ego that was satisfied. Pretty strange dynamic to let your head get swept away in. I have since discontinued modeling with Billabong, but continue to do shoots with Reef. I am still supported by Billabong and they have been an amazing sponsor and family my whole career, but the pressure I put upon myself was beginning to break me.
SK: Is modeling something that all girls should grow up aspiring to participate in?
CC: Absolutely not. Follow your dreams. If you aspire to be a model, your happiness will most likely reside in an image. Which in reality usually isn’t more than a few inches thick, even on a billboard.
SK: What does ‘Sea Kin’ mean to you?
CC: Sea Kin is what the ocean has done to bring us all together. I feel a bond to the sea in a way far deeper than the industry has portrayed our waters to be. There is something unexplainably magical about the way of the world. And it is highlighted by the movement of the ocean, of lightning, of the roots in a tree and the blood in our veins. It is something we have lost in this society. But many of us are beginning to wake back up, beginning to feel again. And for those of us that do, waking up has become a harder task than expected. For when we begin to really feel the magic of the world, we begin to really feel the pain. I see Sea Kin as the movement forward, as a stepping stone towards a deeper connection to what we are as sea seeking individuals. What the ocean has done for us, I think it is time that we begin to do for the world.
SK: What are you dreaming up at the moment?
CC: It depends. My dreams. There are so many, so diverse but all leading to the same thing. I day dream about my music, about silencing the pains that we have faced as such a falsified society. I dream of sending my sounds into the hearts of girls my age striving to be something, to do something. Battling the same battles that I have overcome. I dream of fighting silent and calm, but strong and grounded for peace, kind of like the forest. I dream of enough dreamers waking up to create a world that we can be proud of. And in the literal term. Dreaming. I had a dream a few months ago. I was walking down my driveway, and above my head was the face of a Native American Chief. He began to speak of the earth, of the need for it to be restored to its natural state. Restored. the word resonated with such a deep and powerful grace. He spoke that as it is healed, a great rainbow will span the sky. I saw as his face transform into the earth, enveloped in a giant rainbow. I believe in my dreams. Yep I do.
Much love and thanks to Lauren Hill for the interview and inspiration for me to be exactly what my heart strives to be. ❤