Senior Editor
I think what Roxy has done with this shameless soft-porn butt-fest might be a smart thing, business-wise. Since ONLY ripping doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, Roxy may have struck on the idea (as well as a nerve) that selling sexy may lead to selling more.

Alana Blanchard, perhaps the most well-known offender of being attractive. Photos: (L) ASP/Kirstin Scholtz (R) ASP/Steven Robertson


The Inertia

There has been quite the uproar over Roxy’s Biarritz video. Everyone’s screaming about the beautiful, nameless bum that doesn’t surf enough. Everyone’s yelling through their keyboards, saying, “This is not the way to get people to watch women’s surfing!” and, “Roxy is doing women a great disservice!”

I disagree.

This IS the way to get people to watch women’s surfing. One way, at least. Before you start screaming obscenities at me, covering your screen in spittle and bursting veins in your forehead, let me explain:

I think what Roxy has done with this shameless soft-porn butt-fest is a smart move, business-wise. In Matt Warshaw’s 2008 New York Times article, he estimates that out of the (about) 5 million people who surf, only ten to 15 percent of them are women. That’s only 750,000, according to my near-genius level math skills. If Roxy wants more people to watch women’s surfing and bring in more money, they should be pandering to the money tree. And, in surfing’s case, as much as some people seem to hate it, more men surf than women. Consequently, that’s where the money’s at. This explains a lot of things.

“But Alex,” you say, “Men don’t buy Roxy stuff.” And you’re right, I respond. But men do watch things with beautiful women. And men do buy things for women. And you know what? A lot of the time, when I buy something, it’s because I’ve seen someone (usually a man, because I don’t wear women’s clothes all that often) wearing it and looking good in it. Sue me. So it stands to reason that a woman who sees another woman wearing something and looking good in it will want to buy it and look good in it too.

Beyond that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating the human body, sexuality, and all the trappings of a sport whose participants are essentially naked, tan, and happy the overwhelming majority of the time they’re surfing or at the beach (aside from in cold-water destinations). It’s one of surfing’s most alluring features. Always will be. In many ways, to ignore or deny that seems dishonest.

Some believe that selling that sexy image is cheap and lazy. Maybe it is. It requires very little imagination, but it’s difficult to question its efficacy. And there is a lot of honesty involved in sex. We shouldn’t necessarily be made to feel guilty for our most primal impulses – nor, necessarily, should marketers for identifying and leveraging material and concepts that effectively engage consumers. That’s their job. And the lowest hanging fruit, when it comes to attention-grabbing? Sex.

Yeah, it’s pretty much why we’re on this planet. It’s definitely how we’re on this planet. Thank you mom and dad.

That’s not to say women’s surfing isn’t laden with problems that must be addressed: Not enough people watch women’s surfing. They don’t get paid enough, the prize purses are minuscule, and they have to resort to raising their own travel money – a ridiculous thing, considering the level that women’s surfing is at right now. You know what would change that? More people watching it. Enter Roxy Pro Biarritz commercial.

Granted, Roxy’s video would have been a million times more powerful if, instead of ending with the girl paddling out, it had ended in a massive carving power turn or big throaty barrel, but it didn’t. I’m not sure why. And the trailer seems to reinforce a narrative where the sport’s most elite athletes are admired for their physical appearance more than anything else. I understand how that’s problematic and can be viewed a serious slight and disservice to female professional surfers. It’s hard to imagine a promotional trailer for a comparable event in any other sport; but at the same time, there is no sport quite like surfing. And I’ll bet that more people (…especially given the global buzz around this trailer) tune in this year than last year. Hurray! More people watching women’s surfing! And hopefully they’ll see that, yes, women are ripping harder than ever before. But since ONLY ripping doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, Roxy may have struck on the not-so-novel idea that selling sexy may lead to selling more.

It seems to me that celebrating chemical attractions and gorgeous people has turned into a bad thing in surfing, which is ridiculous. Beauty is not bad. Beauty is great. There are not many things better than a beautiful woman. Maybe strawberry rhubarb pie, but it’s pretty close. Women walk past us men, smelling so sweet, their heels clicking on the pavement, their hair so shiny and perfect. It’s amazing. It’s human nature to like it. It’s good. Procreation of the species and all that. So if a woman who happens to be beautiful also happens to rip, it’s an even better thing. Everyone seems to forget that the companies that make the things we wear, the things we ride, and the things we watch are just that: companies. They need to make money. And sex sells. It also motivates nearly every thing we do. I suspect, this year, it will motivate you to watch a professional women’s surf contest in Biarritz.



Join The Inertia Family 

Only the best. We promise.