We had the opportunity to interview the talented Bethany Hamilton at the premiere of her new documentary, “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable”. Check your local theaters for showtimes!
Film Synopsis: Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a tiger shark at age 13, but this didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a professional surfer. However, it wasn’t only the competition that fueled her desire to stay in the big blue, but her love for the ocean. Not only has she conquered the giant walls but also the journey of being a mother–all with only one arm. She inspires and she never stops; Bethany Hamilton is Unstoppable.
Bethany at the premiere:
*Please note the audio on the below video is not great, so we’ve also transcribed the full interview below!
Well, congratulations! This is amazing.
Of course! So for anyone, like me, who had traumatic experiences in the water, what do you tell those people who are trying to get over those experiences?
Well I think the ocean and water in general can be really tricky because first you need to build upon a strong swimming foundation. So even me as a child, my mom had me on swim team and a lot of swimming in a pool and that helped me build my confidence in the ocean. So I think getting a solid foundation in swimming is so important and then from there you can start in the mellow surf and slowly you get more and more comfortable. But I think also too, like, finding the time to just be in the ocean and spend some time out there. You fall in love with it after a while!
I hope so! How did you teach your son? He’s little, but he’s been surfing for a while.
I know yeah! He just loves the ocean so, it just..I mean naturally we’re always at the beach so he’s always playing in the shoreline and it’s crazy even my little little guy is, like, in love with the ocean and he loves going in the water. So i just try to create a safe feeling in that environment to let them know that this a safe, but fun place.
Awesome! Thank you for that tidbit. And then for us as women, our bodies go through a lot of changes. You’ve had not just a traumatic experience, but now you’re also a mom. How did you deal with image issues? How did you learn to love your body?
Yeah, well i think one thing I’ve always thought is that my body can do amazing things! I nurse my babies, I surf incredible and I love all of the abilities that I have, so celebrating what I can do and letting that be the focus. Also that I’m healthy and functioning well and not taking that for granted to me is the first and foremost way of looking at myself. And I think the way social media is nowadays, it can be so distracting and kind of misleading so I think finding the boundaries in that and learning that you need to say ‘no’ to any thoughts that you may have that don’t celebrate yourself just because of what you see out there. And not setting your standards on someone else’s level. Just being your beautiful self- you might as well love yourself rather than hate on yourself because you’re gonna get through life that much better!
How did you get to this point?! How did you learn to love yourself?
I feel like it’s still a daily process. It’s not like I’m a 100% like “Yeah I got this!” It’s more of just like continual reminding, like, “Hey! I just fed my baby; that’s amazing!” or like “Oh my gosh I just had the funnest surf! My body can do that” or just waking up and feeling healthy. Stuff like that to me is, like, a daily thing. Waking up and even- I’m really into writing things on my wall, like leaving a little sticky note. Just write little things you want to remember, sometimes we can get so busy and so distracted that just writing something down that’s a love note to yourself or someone else writing something about you or writes you a little letter- putting it up somewhere you can see it. I’ve actually been meaning to put some love notes up in my closet on mirror! I haven’t done it yet, it’s in the back of my random things to do.
That’s good advice! Thank you so much. Last question- your birthday is the day before mine! We’re turning 30! What do you have planned for your birthday?
Oh! I’m not into planning birthdays. The funny thing is my sister-in-law, she’s a year younger than me, but she wants to throw me a party for my 30th. Like a country dance. She loves country music and dancing so, like I want to celebrate her but I don’t know! I don’t like attention that much so I don’t know if I wanna do anything but I’m still cherishing 30 and life is beautiful so maybe once it comes closer I’ll figure out something. I hope you have a lovely birthday! Do you have any ideas?
Well, hopefully we’ll be on a boat!
Oh my gosh! The funny thing is in my head I thought it’d be fun to get, like a boat and get a bunch of girlfriends and just drink margaritas and get pupu’s and jump off the boat and enjoy the sunshine.
There you go! Birthday planned!
Yeah well maybe I’ll do that! That’s what I did for my bachelorette party, actually. Yeah any chance to hang out with the girls.
Thank you so much! Congratulations and thanks for all of your wisdom.