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How Women's World Surf League Champion Carissa Moore Rebuilt Her Confidence After Body Shaming

 

In 2011, pro surfer Carissa Moore was the youngest woman to win the women's world surfing championship. This past weekend, just four years later, she earned her third World Surf League World Title—at the young age of 23. But while Moore, who first started competing in her home state of Hawaii at the age of nine, has had a phenomenal record-breaking career, it hasn't always been easy. Earlier this year, she spoke out about how body-shamers messed with her confidence after her 2011 victory. We chatted with Moore about her big win, rebuilding her confidence, being told she "surfs like a guy," and more.

Shape: Congratulations! How does it feel to win your third world title, particularly at such a young age?
Carissa Moore (CM): It feels absolutely amazing, especially since we had incredible waves on the finals day. I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my season. I've had so much fun. (Before you book a surfing trip, read our 14 Surfing Tips for First-Timers (with GIFs!))

Shape: Earlier this year, you spoke about dealing with body shaming, and how it pulled you into a really negative place. How were you able to come back from that?
CM: It's definitely been a process. I'm not perfect with it—I'm constantly working through different things and what other people think of me. But for me, it was realizing I can't make everybody happy. The people who love me appreciate me for who I am inside and out...and that's what matters. (Read more Refreshingly Honest Celebrity Body Image Confessions.)

Shape: How did those comments affect your performance?
CM: It was definitely really hard to hear that people were judging my looks instead of my performance, or that they didn't think I deserved to be where I was. I was training really hard, in the gym multiple times a week in addition to surfing. I struggled a lot with self doubt and [low] confidence. It's an important issue. I want other women to know everyone goes through it, everyone has these challenges. If you can find some peace with yourself, embrace who you are, and be athletic and healthy and happy, that's all you could want for yourself.

Shape: What's it like to be a young woman winning at a sport that is historically male-dominated?
CM: I'm so proud to be a female in surfing right now. All of the women on tour are surfing at new levels and pushing each other, working really hard. We're not just being appreciated as female surfers but as athletes. I got a couple of texts from some of my favorite male surfers remarking on how exciting that day was—it was great to earn that respect.

Shape: What do you think when people say you surf like a guy?
CM: I definitely take that as a compliment. Women are closing the gap between men's surfing and women's surfing, but it's challenging—they're built differently and can hold on to a wave longer and push more water. Women need to be appreciated in their own light for the beauty and grace they bring to surfing. We're doing what the men are doing, but in a different way.

Shape: Tell us a little about your fitness routine. Besides surfing, what else do you do to stay in shape?
CM: For me, there's no better training for surfing than actual surfing. But I also spend three days a week working out with my trainer in a local park. You have to be strong but flexible, and fast but powerful. I really enjoy boxing—it's a great workout and keeps your reflexes fast. We do medicine ball rotation tosses and quick interval training. It's really fun; my trainer comes up with different routines to keep me engaged. I like working out outdoors rather than in a gym. You don't need much to stay in shape and be healthy—it's nice to keep to the basics and stay simple. Twice a week, I also go to yoga classes. (Check out our Surf-Inspired Exercises to Sculpt Lean Muscle.)

Shape: At the end of the day, what's the biggest thing you've learned from your experience being a world champion?
CM: The biggest thing I can take from my journey is that it's not all about winning. Yes, that's why I compete, but if you focus on that one moment, a lot of the time everything else will fall short and you won't be happy. It's about embracing the whole journey and finding happiness in the simple things, like being surrounded by the people you love. When I travel to compete, I go and see the places I'm at, and take pictures, and bring people with me. Win or lose, those are the memories I'm going to have. There's so much more than winning to be thankful for and appreciate.

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