Dear people of surf culture, why the F is everyone upset?
When the blowup of Roxy’s Biarritz commercial hit the Internet last month, the backlash was incredible. As a fan of Stephanie Gilmore and an ocean woman myself, I watched the commercial promoting the 2013 Roxy Pro Biarritz, read the articles and was interested in the fact that so many people were, for lack of a better or more accurate word, disgruntled. But to my amazement, I wasn’t irritated at all. Everyone else was. So why wasn’t I?
Let me start by saying: Roxy, you did have one big bad thing going for you. You didn’t actually show any surfing in a commercial to promote a surf competition. Had one wave been surfed by the amazing Steph, the world probably would have shut its mouth. Also, as a marketing strategy, it would have been brilliant. Remember those Gatorade commercials where you see the athletes sweat out Gatorade after competing or working out? The subliminal message there being, “You drink Gatorade, you too can outcompete, out perform and become an amazing athlete.” It’s subliminal and it works. Had they shown one cutback, one barrel or, hell, one bottom turn, it would have done more for Roxy than just the paddle out. The subliminal message there being, “You wear Roxy you too can be a sexy, athletic sea siren capable of ripping waves.” But they didn’t. Guess it’s time to grab my lighter and burn my Roxy bikini top.
But I’m not mad. Sorry world. I’m expecting angry emails any moment now. Before you hit send on that angry ranting email, let me try to defend my position first. For years, Calvin Klein and other designers used sex to sell their product. Still do. Roxy is 100% designed for women. Albeit if you’re a man who wants to wear Roxy, go for it. Whatever makes you tick, m’friend. Their riders are not only talented but promote a healthy outdoorsy lifestyle. They are also beautiful girls. That’s not by accident. When you are a successful surf company powered by Quiksilver, you can do what you want. Let me repeat: healthy, sexy people sell merchandise. Can you imagine the surf industry trying to appeal to their public by showing unhealthy people trying to surf? Have you ever seen a couch potato who has never been surfing rip on an overhead wave?
Dear Owen Wright,
You are a sexy, attractive man who can surf amazing. Please stop taking off your shirt because it’s too sexy. I absolutely hate to look upon your glorious washboard abs.
Oh yeah that’s right. I said it. Dear men, stop being sexy. I hate to see handsome men prancing on the beach. It hurts my eyes. My libido goes up and then my heart starts racing. I may pass out. Where is my fainting couch? Please someone bring me smelling salts for it’s the only thing that will revive my weak heart. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m slightly sarcastic.
Let’s throw a bone to the slightly more masculine surfing females. When Surf Manager of Quiksilver, Chad Wells, posted on his Facebook, “Some butchy lesbos were representing surfing (in the past), not rigged out sexy women who are in touch with their sexuality and know exactly how they are represented and marketed. 1 well ridden wave at the end of this clip would’ve made the critics happy,” my jaw dropped upon reading it. Since when is it wrong to be a little more masculine? If every woman on this planet were the same little prototype it would get really boring. To my sisters out there who may be a little tougher, more masculine, and who don’t buy into the image that Roxy promotes: GO GET IT WOMAN! Some men (and women may I add) love that. I am a soft powder-puff compared to the amazing Keala Kennelly. That lady can surf. She lost half her face to Teahupo’o reef and that hasn’t slowed her down. The lady is a badass. So what if she’s not Roxy’s image? There are other companies/sponsors out there who respect the hell out of her and support her. Yipidee doo. Pick your poison, world.
So although Roxy’s advertisement was sexy, provocative and showboated Roxy to the extreme, it also celebrates a type of woman. Yes, that woman is a happy, sun-love-child version of the surf goddess extreme, but they are real and they do exist.
Dear Stephanie Gilmore,
You are a badass and gorgeous. Glad you can celebrate that.
I do have to stress one thing before I leave. Controversy still brings attention. For better or for worse, a lot of people will talk about that commercial. Regardless of how you feel on the matter, you are reading this article and may go off to watch the commercial if you haven’t already.
Congratulations! Infamous looks good on you!
Proud Consumer for 20 Years,