As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer. If you have a story you'd like to share but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.
This is Chelsea Woody's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.
I'm a black woman with a full afro, and I surf.
I wanted to learn to surf since I was a teenager after seeing Kate Bosworth in the movie Blue Crush. I was enamored with everything about the movie: the surfer lifestyle, living in beach environments, how freeing the act of surfing made her feel.
As a teen, we're more enamored by the idea of just becoming a surfer or spending carefree summers along the beach. In reality, the lack of representation takes its toll, and you realize how differences can sometimes make it difficult to relate to anyone on the journey or break into surfing.
The more I reflect, the more I realized that Kate inspired me because she was the only example that I had of female surfers—despite looking nothing like me.
I didn't grow up in a coastal town, so I wasn't raised around surfing. I didn't actually learn to surf until much later in my life. It was always in the back of my mind, but whenever I found myself on vacation in places such as Hawaii, I could never convince myself to try out of fear of what those consequences might mean for my melanated features and my hair.
Courtesy of Chelsea Kungkagam
As crazy as it may sound (to others), we know that hair is a major excuse as to why many black women choose not to participate in any water sport. The need to maintain unrealistic hairstyle upkeep, combined with the fear of the open ocean, and a necessary strength in swimming, means when I look around, I don't see many people—male or female—that look like me. These are also major reasons as to why we represent less than 1% of any water sport.
Access to outdoor spaces and having family members or friends to pass down traditions also contributes to the lack of diversity.
It's unfortunate, but the facts. So, how do we weaken the stigma? How can we spark the interest in black families to encourage them to add surfing to the list of what we can do?
We can give our community positive examples and resources to help them feel more comfortable in the ocean. Through representation hopefully we can encourage more black families to get out in the surf lineup and know that we belong in these spaces. Then we can see the generational growth in outdoor spaces. When we see more folks that look like us, it begins to normalize what should already be normal.
A few years into my marriage, my husband and I decided to take a break from corporate life, quit our jobs, and travel abroad for a year and a half. I figured this was as good as time as any to finally learn to surf. We posted up in Indonesia for a few months and both committed ourselves to learning. We would hit the water everyday for a month; it became a part of our daily routine.
Initially, when I first started surfing, I was a bit insecure about not fitting the typical surfer stereotype. In Indonesia, although the majority of the population shared my skin tone, there weren't many Indonesian women who surfed, and there certainly weren't any black women. Additionally, swimsuit options didn't fit my athletic body type the same, and my protective braided hairstyles made me stand out.
Refusing to be discouraged, I didn't allow my outward appearance to be indicative of my interests. But oftentimes, when people have the similar interests, there's a tendency to want to fit a certain mold to make sure people know that you belong to that group. I quickly realized that my surf style wasn't at risk of emulating anyone, my flavor was a little different. And I really learned to embrace that.
I didn't need to try to fit into a space that didn't have people like me in mind at all, allowing me to be unapologetically myself. That was one of my most liberating realizations in my surfing. But I still had more work to do.
You know how, as a black or brown person in a "particular" room, you see another sister or brother, and suddenly you're immediately connected? That's similar to how my surf sisters bonded over our relationship with the ocean. Certain experiences we have surfing just don't need explanation, they understand and can relate. It has been such a blessing finding these women. The ladies and I would regularly discuss the lack of diversity, what the sport considers marketable, and how that impacts surfing for future generations who are both free surfers and competitive. We collectively knew there had to be more black and brown girls who are interested in surfing; those who surf and are unapologetically who they are. And in the slight chance that there weren't any, we knew the importance of showing examples of what we didn't have when we got started
Soon, our community, Textured Waves, was born. We're just four African American female surfers who wanted to create a space for women of all shades who surf. We support each other through sisterly camaraderie and creative outlets related to surfing, and we aim to change the narrative of who is a surfer through imagery and representation. We're even working on a few short film projects that showcase the beauty of African-American female surfers. If you can believe it, nothing like this exists.
It's all full-circle moment, and why I fight so hard to promote diversity in the sport.
Here in the States, we are a lot further behind other countries in terms of representation in the surf world. That has a lot to do with the history of this country: slavery, Jim Crow, segregation at beaches and in swimming pools, I could go on and on. But I hope black women reclaim their place in the sea, and eventually we get to see a 'Serena Williams' of surfing, representing us on a competitive world stage. I hope in the future we begin to see more diversity in aquatics and beach life as a whole.
As often as I can, I try to surf. I am happiest and feel most beautiful when I'm gliding up and down on a wave in my flow. Carving my own lines on the wave feels like dancing on water to me. No matter what it looks like to anyone else, I know what it feels like to me and that is the most beautiful feeling.
That feeling, will forever be unexplainable.
This year, we are no longer accepting representation to only be limited to what we're shown. We have to expound our interests to go beyond and visualize our wildest dreams. Women who go against the grain inspire me.
So in essence, I'm inspired by my sea sisters who work to challenge the visual we see on the daily.
To keep up with Chelsea's journey, you may follow her on Instagram @chel.bythe.sea. Also, to learn how you can join the movement, you can visit Textured Waves' website for more information.
Featured image courtesy of Chelsea Woody
Originally published February 4, 2020
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Libra woman and Aries man are the divine feminine and divine masculine, coming together as one. The love compatibility between these two is one for the books. These two are opposite signs, however, their differences tend to complement each other well. This is a dynamic relationship where they know how to have a lot of fun together, but also aren’t afraid to deal with the more serious stuff that comes with a relationship.
The Libra woman is looking for her equal in love, someone who is willing to put in the same effort she is, and the Aries man sees Libra as someone he is willing to do that with.
The Love Compatibility Of A Libra Woman And An Aries Man
What attracts a Libra woman and an Aries man to each other?
There is a magnet of attraction pulling these two together, and things tend to move pretty fast in this relationship. The Libra woman is always open to love and her charming nature rarely has any challenges here. The Aries man fights for his independence and doesn’t sacrifice that unless he is completely enamored with someone.
Once the Aries man catches the eye of the Libra woman, he is typically the one to make the first move and this instantly wins the approval of Libra.
These two feel like they have known each other forever when they meet, and this spark between them doesn’t die down easily.
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What is the relationship like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The relationship between the Libra woman and the Aries man is one of balance and excitement. The Aries man tends to take on the more dominant role in this relationship and the Libra woman tends to be the more receptive one. Aries is ruled by masculine Mars, and Libra is ruled by feminine Venus. They understand they are coming from two completely different worlds, yet they also instinctively feel this underlying connection to each other and like they could be something each other needs in their lives.
The Libra woman can rely on the Aries man, and the Aries man never has to ask for the love that Libra already knows he needs.
This is a couple that is often reading each other’s minds and wanting to do a lot of the same things. However, not everything is rainbow in this relationship as well, and there are some major differences they have to overcome to make things work. One argument can lead to an explosion between these two, and addressing things when they come up rather than sweeping them under the rug, will be needed to make this relationship long-term.
What is the sex like between a Libra woman and an Aries man?
The sex between a Libra woman and an Aries man is adventurous. These are two cardinal signs with plenty of energy and stamina to keep things exciting in the bedroom. There tends to be a good give and take in this relationship, and their yin and yang energy benefits them when it comes to their sex life.
There is electricity felt between the two of them in this area of their life, and their power of attraction to each other is strong. These are two people who will want to do a lot of things together, including exploring sexually together.
The Aries man will have to be careful with being overly aggressive, however, as the soft Libra woman may not like this energy- it will completely depend on the two individuals at hand. The Libra woman wants to ease into things, the Aries man wants to get going right away. Learning about each other's bodies, and energy, and reading each other’s cues will help with this.
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What makes a relationship between a Libra woman and an Aries man work?
These two genuinely like each other, and that basis is a key factor for success in any relationship. The Aries man is straight to the point, direct, and inspired. The Libra woman admires these characteristics in others, as she is often herself finding her balance in this type of energy as well. Neither sign is overly emotional in a way that turns them off, and they both require a lot of the same things in a committed relationship. They want honesty, fun, good communication, passion, and to be moving towards a common goal together.
The Libra woman and Aries man don’t have a problem being real with each other and this is something they really value within the relationship. They are both very charming, and there is plenty of flirtation and attraction to keep this relationship going. Aries being the protector they are, Libra finds a sense of safety and ease in this energy, and like they have found their match. Overall, this is a well-balanced relationship and one where they don’t have a problem when it comes to compatibility or chemistry in the relationship.
What may cause a Libra woman and an Aries man to break up?
Libra is the lover, Aries is the fighter, and this energy may be tiring for the both of them after time. The Libra woman can be passive to a fault, and the Aries man who is not evolved, may take advantage of that. She will need to be careful with putting Aries’ needs above her own, creating resentment later down the road. The Aries man loves a challenge, and the Libra woman would be up for that game for a little bit, but if she is not being met in the middle, she will begin to look for other places. These two can have a difficult time keeping the peace in the relationship, and there could be a lot of arguments and disagreements here if they both aren’t willing to put their egos or self-pleasing attitudes to the side.
The Libra woman and Aries man are both more sensitive than they appear or come off as. They are also not necessarily the type to dive deep into their emotions and express them to others, even in their relationships. However, this energy can keep the relationship to a surface level than what is needed to progress and grow the relationship, and a sense of openness is required for this couple to work. Libra needs romance, she wants to be wowed. Aries needs to remember this and to always consider her love language.
Overall, this is a successful pairing. They will have their fair share of challenges in the relationship, but nothing they can’t overcome if they are willing to. The trouble will come in when it comes to the longevity of the relationship, keeping Aries excited and Libra in love. However, all in all, there is more power, attraction, and love to keep this relationship together rather than apart. No relationship is perfect, but this one is a little more blessed than most.
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