Sitting on her board in the clear waters near Ha‘ena on Halloween Day 2003, then 13-year-old surfing star Bethany Hamilton waited to catch a single wave. Out of nowhere, a shark quietly appeared and ripped off Hamilton’s left arm.
It’s a story well-known to residents of the Garden Island and a story shared with the world when it happened nearly three years ago.
Around the same time, magazine producer Melinda Laging and colleagues were starting up an inspirational magazine targeted towards teens ages 12 to 18. Laging remembers the first time she heard Hamilton’s story.
“When Bethany Hamilton was attacked, I saw her on TV and I just remembered her being so inspiring,” Laging said. “That day I thought, ‘the day I have her on the cover of the magazine is the day I know I’m doing the right thing.’”
Hamilton’s story is now being revisited in the premiere issue of Nine magazine. In it, Hamilton not only discusses her surprise shark attack, but also discusses her new line of shampoos, perfumes and jewelry that launched at Claire’s Boutiques earlier this year.
“I have the coconut-flavored lip gloss. It’s so great,” Laging said.
The $15 million-dollar movie based on her story is also set to start filming this fall.
But Hamilton’s feature story for the magazine goes much deeper than product endorsements and a re-telling of what happened to her in the fall of 2003. Laging said that Hamilton is the epitome of the principles the staff at Nine magazine is trying to project on teens.
“The magazine is based on the nine principles we here think are important to teens: love, joy, peace, faithfulness, patience, self- control, kindness, goodness and gentleness,” said Laging. “She’s our perfect cover story in that she’s just so positive and inspirational. The fact that she’s still going strong, loves her family and loves her faith, she’s our ideal cover for the premiere issue.”
Despite sounding like a religious-themed magazine, Laging said that it really isn’t.
“We get asked that a lot, but we’re doing this with a different approach than the other magazines for teens that encourage them to get the hottest new thing on the market,” Laging said. “It’s easy to take the materialistic approach, but we want to empower the girls and tell them they are beautiful and have a lot to offer. So that’s how we differ from those publications.”
Hamilton is currently in California surfing in the finals for a national championship.
Laging said the most important message to take away from the magazine is for the teenage girls to have faith in themselves and have a sense of who they are in their own identities. In using Hamilton as the cover story for the premiere issue, the staff at Nine magazine hopes to do just that.
“Her story has kind of been swept under the rug a little bit,” Laging said. “It’s fun to bring it back into the open.”
For more information on Nine magazine and how to get a copy of the issue, visit www.ninemagazine.com.
• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or email@example.com.