…and how Moroccan women do make waves
If you remember that picture from an earlier post, it landed a cover (!!) and an interview on one of the most popular surf girl magazines in Europe…
But first, let’s start with how it all began: a few months ago, just after the “Charlie Hebdo” tragic events, an English-made video about a Moroccan surf girl surfaced on Magicseaweed and then on many Surf websites. The video featured a candid, heart-warming innocent 17 years old surfer girl from Rabat, the capital of Morocco but was highly disruptive if not full of bias and stereotypes.
You can watch the video here : Muslim Women Making Waves And Breaking Stereotypes in Morocco
As a feminist, patriot, active voice woman, I couldn’t stay passive and raised a debate on social media…
The footage is nice but as a Moroccan “Muslim” woman let me explain a couple of things :
– Moroccan girls used to play different sports way before, our moms used to wear mini-skirts, run cross, play basketball and gymnastics, …
– Morocco has MANY experiences surfer girls/women that have been doing that for more than 15 years. Some of them are even married, have kids and are local champs. They wear wetsuit, bikinis and tan on the beach in cheeky bottoms just like any surfer girl in the world, and YES they are muslim, …
– Morocco is not IRAN, SAOUDI ARABIA or JORDAN… Women are as free to speak, work, travel as men do,
– If you think that a “surfer girl” is special in Morocco, then what about all the others that don’t surf but are swimmers or footballers, those who go dancing all night long, those who have boyfriends and simply those who live normal lives…
Seriously, we are tired of the same of STEREOTYPE that YOU hold on us Moroccan Women : The POOR, UNEDUCATED, with BIGGER DREAM THAN SHE CAN/SHOULD have…
We have people that are highly educated, highly talented in surfing (or whatever) and who really travel around the world to fulfill whatever passion they have…
Please upgrade the level of your “Moroccan Girls” surf movies.
That Facebook comment alone raised a social media outrage between Moroccan surfers, accustomed travelers and some narrow minded joes.
A few days after, I got a message from a Magicseaweed editor who wanted to hear about my version of the story. We had a excellent exchange of views about the way that video portrayed Muslim women and Moroccan ones in particular.
I got some confidence after that and took the initiative to contact the Surfgirl Mag to raise the voice of a melting pot culture (Arab, Amazing, Muslim and Moroccan) women. This is the conversation that took place on Facebook Messenger:
Hello, my name is Nahid and I am a 29 yrs old woman from Morocco. I am an engineer and a surfer. I wish to share my surfing pictures with you and would like to be featured [on your Facebook page] for a couple reasons :
– The world has a certain vision of muslim countries that is unrepresentative of the truth, at least in my country,
– People have some strong judgment against moroccan women : we are always portrayed as poor, uneducated, wanna be surfers… We don’t have the international level indeed but it’s simply because surfing has only become popular in the last 20 years (even though surfing in Morocco started in the 60’s, we suffered from the lack of equipment and surf schools).
Have a nice day !
The response was quick and surprising:
Hey Nahid, I love your photos! In the next issue of SurfGirl I’m doing a ‘surfers of the world’ article. It would be great to include you in that, if I send you some hi res photos? Can you email me and I will send you some questions. I will also put one of these photos up on the website/FB if that’s ok? Thanks.
(In fact, when I asked to be featured, I meant on the mag’s Facebook page, I wasn’t even dreaming about the magazine, let alone being on the cover). The interview went smoothly and after a couple of weeks I got tagged in the most jaw-dropping post ever:
On the cover is Moroccan surfer Nahid El Massnaoui. As far as we’re aware, this is the first Moroccan surf girl on the cover of a surf mag anywhere. So props to you Nahid we love your positive attitude to life, “As soon as I step into the water, a big smile draws on my face and whatever the conditions are like I feel accomplished.”