No-limits ageing: Mid-life motivation from senior female surfers

As females, we may lose our confidence as we get older. But a new documentary about senior women surfers shows ageing well is about embracing our strength and vitality.

In a society obsessed with youth and beauty, ageing can be a difficult transition for women.

We may feel invisible, panicked about our changing bodies, fear irrelevance as children move out and worry about losing our jobs.

Confidence and self-esteem may slide.

But a new documentary featuring older women surfers is challenging the ageing well narrative with messages about how you can reinvent yourself in mid-life and experience empowerment as you age.

Older Women Who Surf documentary

Taking Off: Tales of Older Women Who Surf is a motivational documentary made by Dr Alice MacKinnon and wife Jennifer Jefferies that features six women aged between 59 and 72 who surf on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

The women all took up surfing in their 40s, 50s and 60s, are from the Surf Witches Boardriders Club and surf at various levels.

“(The documentary) is a contribution to a new conversation that is emerging about how vital, bold, strong, bright we can age,” Dr MacKinnon, aged 60, who is also a featured surfer, tells The House of Wellness TV.

“And that we have so much more to give to the world, and that taking up challenging activities like surfing is just one expression of that.

“We can do anything – anything at all.”

Jennifer, 62, says the pair were inspired to make the film after realising senior women surfers were under documented.

But the keen surfer notes on the documentary website that the film is actually “not about women surfing – it’s about women getting out there and doing the things that they want to do and being courageous”.

Adds Dr MacKinnon: “Stepping up to your passions, no matter what age you are.”

Reclaiming lost dreams

Margaret Cummins, 72, took up surfing when she was 69.

“Surfing was basically denied to me when growing up,” Margaret says on the website.

“So when, at the age of 69, the opportunity arose for me to take up surfing, I jumped at it.”

Dr MacKinnon, who took up surfing at age 46, recounts to The House of Wellness TV how she let her surfing dreams slide as life got in the way.

“I got married; I had a child; I was working; I was studying; I was doing all of those things.

“I let my dream of surfing go.

“And then when I was on a camping holiday … I saw a flyer in the campsite kitchen and I just went, ‘Ooh, I think this is my time’.

“So I went for the dream, and I grabbed it on that first wave, and I focused and balanced and that first wave just opened a whole other phase of my life.”

Ageing well means embracing the second half of your life

Jennifer says there are “so many amazing stories of women to be told”, particularly older women.

“And if we can do anything to help advance the conversation, change the narrative and have other women being inspired to get out there and really live the second half of their lives – versus turning into little old ladies who think they have to be little old ladies – (that) is priceless to me.”

For more on happy and healthy ageing for women: 

Written by Melissa Hong.