Episode 77: The Curvy Surfer Girl Movement with Ka’ena Gilman Moeai and Elizabeth Sneed

Ka’ena Gilman Moeai’s recent Tik-Tok video went viral for showing her standing up to body-shaming bullies.
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 12:30 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 7:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaena Gilman Moeai recently took to Tik-Tok to stand up against bullies making fun of her body.

Referencing a picture of her in a bikini surfing, she said, “This is me last week at the bay. When I surf, I get a lot of comments like ‘Oh, did you see that big girl catch that wave?’ Or, ‘Oh, how long is your board. Oh, so that’s why you can catch all these waves.’ Fat shaming is weak!”

“Growing up, I got bullied in high school and not just for surfing, but for just existing,” explained Moeai. “It’s definitely an uphill battle.”

The Laie native’s bravery in her post struck a chord with tens of thousands of people and went viral.

“I have more people DM-ing me who are native Hawaiian saying, ‘I have a hard time surfing because people look at my body. They don’t respect me in the line-up,’” said Moeai.

The 26-year-old says Elizabeth Sneed inspired her to speak out.

“The mantra that I used for the first year I surfed is, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it!” said Sneed.

Originally from Texas, Sneed moved to Hawaii a year ago. She took her first longboarding lesson in 2012 and says she got the same discrimination.

“I was over 210 pounds, 5 feet tall, clinically obese and I couldn’t find surf suits,” said Sneed. “I got a ton of people saying there’s no way I could surf and that I was a stunt double for somebody else.”

In the ocean, she had an epiphany.

“The world had never seen a plus size surfer on a large platform like on Instagram. They were out there and they did exist, but they weren’t branded as such, so no one could find them and I became the first,” said Sneed.

She launched “Curvy Surfer Girl Movement” a platform for plus-size female athletes to inspire and encourage one another and clear up misconceptions about female surfers.

“Queen Kaahumanu was one of the high ranking alii she was a well documented surfer and plus-sized woman,” said Sneed.

Sneed says people’s views of female surfers changed once it became a business run by men which led to the marketing of only slender and younger surfer girls.

“We see these large uncles surfing. Uncles that are over 250 pounds on paddle boards,” said Sneed. “Sometimes their reaction isn’t positive because they’re conditioned to believe that women should lose weight.”

But, people can say what they want. Kaena and Elizabeth will still be out there in the line-ups.

“We are enough and what we decide to look like is none of your business, it’s our business and our bodies,” said Sneed.

“I’m more than my body size, I’m more than just a person who surfs,” said Moeai. “Always approach everybody with aloha.”

In just one year, “Curvy Surfer Girl Movement” got major surfing brands like Ripcurl, Billabong and Roxy to feature more plus-sized women surfers in their campaigns.

You can hear more of the conversation with Kaena and Elizabeth on the ‘Muthaship’ podcast below or wherever you download podcasts.

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For more episodes with Steph, Noli and Brooke, click here to visit the ‘Muthaship’ archives.

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