GIRL POWER: A Poets Heart: A meditation on Flora Christen Baturbatur

Batu Bolong, Java, you have caught a flash of the infectious smile belonging to Flora Christen Butarbutar, Indonesia’s first professional female longboarder. Aside from the effortless way she weaves through the crowded line-up with a natural grace, Flora’s poise doesn’t stop at the nose of her single fin. She has consistently broken every stereotype when it comes to surfing in Indonesia. In the quick flash of seven years, Flora has not only found, but propelled a career within the surf industry as professional female surfer. She’s also the face of an Asia-wide beauty campaign for Dove soap, has been featured on ESPN’s women, and has taken the podium at the Asian Women’s Surf Championships. All the more impressive when you realize she first picked up a surfboard at 25 years old.

Whether she meant to or not, Flora’s rise to prominence set a precedent for Indonesian women. One that has highlighted inclusion, cutting against the country’s historical lack of female participation in the sport.

Finding herself set among
the trials and tribulations
of a woman conquering
a reformation.
One of reinforced ideals.

A pioneer,
a pivot of career.

A journey,
from city to serenity.
Delighting in a ride
found once in a lifetime.
Having supported her entire family through her adolescence, Flora dropped her corporate 9-5 job to take some well-deserved time off, much to the surfprise of her extended family. And, to absolutely no surprise, that time off lead her to the beaches of Bali.

“Like everyone these days, I was trying to catch whitewash down in Batu Balon with all those beginners. The only difference being, I was the only Indonesian girl out there, alone.

I kept hearing ‘What are you trying to do? Go home, you’re not supposed to be here’. Honestly, from that moment on, I knew I was going to have to show everyone exactly how it’s done.”

It’s the ease at which Flora broke Indonesian stigma’s ingrained in the local surf culture. It’s the way she found her calling so comfortably in her mid-twenties. It’s her seamless yet powerful trajectory to finding her passionate voice. When you speak to her, it’s hard not to get emotionally engulfed in admiring the humble way she tells her story, one that’s as unique and tangible as it is relatable.

One step, two step.
Glimmering as the water
hits her temperamental feet.
Finding her stability,
in the unpredictability,
of a mother ocean.
A silhouette caught in crested sunlight.

Embracing femineity,
imploring femineity.
An intermediary,
carving her own path,
between the men
dropping in around her.

Flora helms an undeniable empowerment in the way she carries herself, a contagious calm that stands out in stark naked to the everyday island tourist chaos that is Bali.

She is a vivid trailblazer reminding us that you can quit that nowhere job, you can decide to start again, you can be an adult and pursue your calling. “Just walk out there. If you fall, you fall. It’s only water” she smiles.

A unique trajectory, showing no signs of stopping. her spine.

By Isis Flack • Photography by Didit Prasetyo


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