Does Sex Actually Sell Surfing?
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.
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.”