Style

Siraad Kalila Dirshe

Meet the New Yorker Flipping the Script on Surfing

“I’ve always been drawn to the water,” says Flamingo content manager, storyteller, and former Essence magazine beauty editor Siraad Kalila Dirshe. “I’m a Scorpio—a water sign—so I’ve always felt like it’s this place where I can truly unplug.” Like many who grew up in the city, Dirshe got her first glimpse into the world of surfing through pop culture: “I remember being enamored with Blue Crush when I was in high school,” she explains. “I didn’t know how to swim, but I thought, This is so cool—I want to be like one of those badass women, riding waves.”

It wasn’t until a recent trip to Ghana that the New Yorker got serious about surfing. “I saw all of these amazing Black people out in the water and thought, Oh my god, Black people do surf,” she says. Then she started digging. Turns out some of the earliest mentions of people riding makeshift boards were in the Gold Coast region of what is now Ghana, centuries before the surfing scene hit Hawaii. The more Dirshe uncovered, the more inspired she became. That fervor followed her back to Rockaway Beach, where every weekend, she and her partner would document their days paddling out along the stretch of sand edging NYC. Their goal is to tell a different side of the California-girl narrative that’s long had its moment in the sun. “Now more than ever we need diverse perspectives and stories told in the world,” says Dirshe, who hints at a documentary project in the works.

Now that she finally feels like she’s found her sea legs, Dirshe’s advice to women who might be too intimated to get out in the water is simple: Just do it. “There’s so much beauty in trying something for the first time—it’s really humbling,” she says. “We’re living through a crazy time, so the water has become an even more important place to find peace and solace.”

Dirshe gave us a peek inside her beach bag; her approach to gearing up for a day on the sand is about as down to earth as she is.

MY SUN, SAND, AND SURF ESSENTIALS

  1. The New York Times
    The New York Times Still Processing
    LISTEN NOW

    “I usually take a two-hour train ride from Harlem to Rockaway, Queens, to get to the beach. So for me, the perfect day is as much about the routine of finding my spot on the train and listening to a podcast as it is about getting in the water.”

  2. GOOPGLOW MORNING SKIN SUPERPOWDER
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW MORNING
    SKIN SUPERPOWDER
    goop, $60/$55
    with subscription
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    “Staying hydrated is important, and it’s even more important when I’m outside in the sun all day. Before I hit the beach, I load up on fluids and add this tangy, delicious superpowder for an added boost.”

  3. Beautycounter SPF 30
    Beautycounter SPF 30 goop, $39
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    “I’ve always had a hard time finding a mineral sunscreen because most of them leave an ashy cast or residue behind…but not this one.”

  4. Dos Gardenias
    Dos Gardenias one-piece goop, $237
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    “Having a suit that stays put is a must, which is why I usually go for a one-piece when I’m surfing. And I love a pop of color—red is my go-to!”

  5. Grown Alchemist Lip Balm
    Grown Alchemist lip balm goop, $23
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    “Lip balm is maybe one of my most favorite beauty products ever (I’ve got a million of them). This one is amazing; the watermelon and vanilla extract smell like summer.”

  6. Birkenstock Arizona
    Birkenstock Arizona goop, $100
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    “The right sandals make all the difference–I need to be able to slip in and out of them, and they also can’t overheat when I leave them behind while I’m in the water. Birkenstocks do all of that.”

  7. G. Sport x Proenza Schouler
    G. Sport x Proenza Schouler t-shirt goop, $125
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  8. RE/DONE Shorts
    RE/DONE Cutoffs goop, $195
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    “I’m used to traveling a long way to get to the beach, so I need something that is comfortable enough to hop in and out of and still makes me feel pulled together. Denim cutoffs and a T-shirt are my fallbacks because they’re so easy.”

  9. Herban Essentials
    Herban Essentials towelettes goop, $16
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    “I travel light. These makeup-remover wipes are the easiest thing to stick in my bag. When I get out of the water, I love the feeling of wiping away all the salt and sunscreen residue, especially on days when I can’t squeeze in a rinse after a surf session.”

  10. PLANT Apothecary Body Wash Set
    PLANT Apothecary Body Wash Set goop, $35
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    “I like to shower off at the surf shop the second I slip out of the water. I don’t lug a big bottle of body wash with me, so this set of minis is great because I can throw them in my bag without weighing it down. Plus, I love the different scents and the fact that they don’t dry out my skin.”

  11. Tata Harper Face Oil
    Tata Harper Face Oil goop, $132
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    “Salt water can do a number on my skin, so I like to moisturize as soon as I towel off. The Retinoic Oil is one of my absolute favorites because it’s so lightweight but still leaves my skin soft and hydrated.”

  12. Bonnie Tsui Book
    Bonnie Tsui Why We Swim Bookshop, $24
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    “I read this book by Bonnie Tsui and she talks about how the water is one of the few places where you can’t physically have your phone. There are hardly any distractions when you’re out there. It’s also one of the only places where I feel like I can really disconnect.”

  13. vitruvi x goop diffuser
    vitruvi x goop diffuser goop, $119
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    “My skin gets dry. And being out in the sun makes it even drier. That’s why I keep this diffuser pumping at home. It not only looks great but also goes for hours before you have to fill it up again.”

  14. goop Beauty PHYS. ED. RECOVERY BATH SOAK goop Beauty PHYS. ED. RECOVERY BATH SOAK
    goop Beauty PHYS. ED. RECOVERY BATH SOAK goop, $35/$32 with subscription
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    “After lying on my board for hours, my body can get super sore. I always make it a point to take a nice warm bath post-surf; adding a recovery soak really takes it up a notch, and this one soothes tense muscles like no other.”

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