A sexy promotional teaser video for an upcoming women’s pro surfing competition has been criticized as exploitative and even “voyeuristic.”
The Australian surfwear company that produced the video, however, has stated that the attacks are unfair and the brand, and the footage, are being misunderstood.
The surfing competition is the Roxy Pro Biarritz in France, which begins Wednesday. Roxy, which produced the video, with the hashtag #WhoAmIJustGuess,” does not reveal the blond, tanned, and obviously very fit surfer whose face is not shown. (Roxy is part of surfwear giant Quiksilver.)
But the surfer’s body is definitely on display, first as she climbs out of bed while wearing just a pair of panties, then as she showers, and ultimately as she arrives at the beach with her surfboard.
She is never shown riding waves.
The most likely candidate is Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore (pictured at right), a five-time world champion. Video clues: The name Whitney Gilmore on her iPad, and Gilmore’s sponsors’ logos on the surfboard the mystery woman is carrying.
A better clue: Roxy on Monday announced it has signed Gilmore to its team of athletes.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the surfer also could be South Africa’s Rosy Hodge.
Catharine Lumby, a Macquarie University Professor who advised the Australian Sports Commission on the “sexploitation” of female athletes, is quoted by the Telegraph:
“There is nothing wrong with celebrating fit bodies. I’m all for it, but this goes way beyond. It is really just very voyeuristic. It looks more like a lingerie ad. It seems completely out of touch with modern Australia and little to do with the sport it is publicizing.”
There also has been some criticism of the promotion on Facebook and Twitter.
Roxy responded to its critics by stating, on its Facebook page, that women are complex and multi-dimensional.
“To ignore this fact is to ignore who we really are,” reads the statement. “Obviously, there’s been much conversation around the video we recently released. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water.
“You certainly don’t have to be sexy to be an athlete, [and] we also believe it’s not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don’t judge one to be better than the other and we don’t believe in excluding one for the other.”
Reports TripleM.com, on its “What’s Hot” page: “Are the critics going over the top? Is the video intended by Roxy as just a fun and sexy promotion not too dissimilar to the Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins lingerie ads we see?”
The Roxy Pro Biarritz is the sixth of eight stops on the Association of Surfing Professionals’ Women’s World Championship Tour, which boasts the world’s 17 top-ranked surfers.
The ASP, however, had nothing to do with the Roxy video promotion.
ASP spokesman Dave Prodan chose not to deliver an opinion on the video. Instead, he issued this statement, via email:
“The women of the ASP Top 17 are phenomenal individuals possessing talent, inspiration, and character. ASP’s vision for the future of the sport is to celebrate their athleticism, personality, and stories. We look forward to bringing this to the world in 2014 and beyond.”
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