Alana Blanchard, not surfing. Photo courtesy of Cooler Mag

Alana Blanchard, not surfing. Photo courtesy of Cooler Mag


The Inertia

Have you watched this Carissa Moore video yet? We stuck it on the site yesterday and, if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.

In it, the former ASP World Champ and strong 2013 title contender from Hawaii is asked by Zach Weisberg from The Inertia about sex appeal and surfing. Her answer broke my heart a little bit:

“To be honest I’m a little undecided. I think it’s great that the girls in our sport are so attractive and they’re athletes and they rip…and if you ask anyone on the beach their favorite surfer it would probably be Alana Blanchard. That’s great she brings a lot of eyes to our sport, but I’ve definitely been on the opposite site of the spectrum. I’ve definitely been criticized for my looks, last year I gained a little bit of weight, I wasn’t doing as well on tour and you hear comments like, ‘She’s had one too many cheeseburgers, and it’s hurtful you know?’ But, unfortunately, we’re in a sport where you’re in a bathing suit the whole time…”

How must it feel to be Carissa Moore? You’re a mold-shattering surfer, the youngest ever ASP Women’s World Title winner (in 2011), and the youngest girl to ever land the cover of Surfer Magazine, yet your average Joe couldn’t give a flying f**k as they’re too busy drooling (the nicest way of putting it) over Alana Blanchard’s Instagram. When they do turn their attention to you, they don’t say, “Awesome air, that girl rips!” They say, “She’s had one too many cheeseburgers…” What a messed up world. It would be enough to make me want to throw on my rashie or give pro surfing a swerve at least.

Criticisms be damned! Carissa rips. Tough not to like her. Photo courtesy of Cooler Mag

Criticisms be damned! Carissa rips. Photo courtesy of Cooler Mag

But she doesn’t do that. Not even close. On the contrary, she ramps it up (above, winning this year’s Vans US Open of Surfing) and when she won her ASP World Title in 2011 and was sponsored by Nike, they released the below clip. It totally celebrates her as an athlete, which made me feel a whole lot of love for Nike and her.

It’s a shame more brands don’t get involved in this kind of thing rather than peddling the tired let’s sell the blonde, sexy surf girl stereotype. Especially as more and more studies are showing that it doesn’t actually make women buy stuff anyway.

Cori Schumacher explored this in her excellent “Beyond Gidget” feature for us last year, citing a study by Ben Barry, a Canadian women’s health advocate who runs an model agency that specializes in diverse shapes and sizes, which showed that, “women’s purchase intentions increase up to 300 per cent when exposed to diverse body styles and types in advertising.”

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  • Daniel Schoeman

    Surfing’s not really a sport, more like an activity. Loads of guys watch Carissa bcs she’s a great surfer and we want to surf better than her. Couldn’t give a f… abt who looks better in a bikini. Carissa still sets the standard for girls and I’m a fan. Bikinis r cool, only if they r local to look at and…..to talk to.

    • jetty83

      clearly, you don’t take surfing to seriously to only consider it an activity.

  • Women&Waves

    Hello. I love this article. im an advocate for female surfers and could not have said this better..thank you for this insightful article.

  • John Wobbly Gong

    check this piece for an Australian perspective (interesting comments too…to say the least!) http://kwiva.com.au/article/view/16/whats_wrong_with_being_sexy

  • Cam

    I’m a girl surfer from Brazil, and I find this article very interesting.

    I like to believe surfing is one of the most democratic sports, and that there’s a space for athletes that stand out for different reasons.

    I honestly think both Carissa and Alana do bring “good” attention to our sport, as they are both healthy girls that work hard.

    IMO, it’s impossible to please everyone, so in the same way Carissa was hurt by people that are not “pleased” with the way she looks, its possible that Alana Blanchard may also be hurt by people that say she can’t surf, as she has said a few times in interviews. And in both cases it’s unfair.

    Also, the fact that a guy may “drool” over Alana’s intagram doens’t necessarily mean one will not like to watch Carissa rip, I mean, people are not amoebas and can have various interests.

    Marketing folks probably know this, so there’s gotta be a balance out there somewhere.

  • Stephen

    Sex isn’t being used to sell surfing, its being used to sell surf-wear. The businesses that bankroll the sport of women’s surfing do it to market their products. Their target market is teenage girls. For many teenage girls looking hot, while you do something cool like surfing is a good thing.

  • Sunova Surfboards Australasia

    daniels right,’seriously’ jetty?get a grip,why do we need to ‘sell’ everything?

  • Stu Azole

    what did those views sell? Without looking, who are her sponsors?