Surfing brand and sponsor Roxy has been heavily chided for its recent Pro Biarritz teaser video that fails to really show surfing at all—instead opting for a gender crushing portrayal of female surfing athletes: depicting a faceless, topless babe on crisp white sheets, as the camera follows her every provocative step during her morning routine.
The advertisement contains a distinct lack of surfing and a distinct overdrive of sultry, lingerie commercial vibes: a faceless woman rolls in bed, rises and puts on a sheer white shirt, only to immediately, casually do away with it as she steps in to the shower. Lingering on water beads gliding across her, the ad eventually does progress beyond the shower scene, and finally, the mystery woman reaches the beach. But at the exact moment you think she might be granted a board and actually ride some waves to demonstrate her profession, the teaser finishes with a convenient shot from behind as she paddles in the water. It’s one of twelve butt shots that have been fitted in to the 1 minute 46 second video. Twelve. For a surfing promotion, it’s done exceedingly well to not be about surfing whatsoever; I’ll applaud their tenacity in remaining wholly committed to an entirely irrelevant cause.
The lack of identity is supposedly all in the name of Roxy’s campaign, #WhoAmIJustGuess, which conceals the surfer’s face to provoke a guessing competition. A neat publicity stunt, but in this sexually driven context, it easily comes across as a lazy female objectification: nameless, faceless; her body is all that matters. Not so neat. Female athletes deserve to be exhumed from their long history of exploitation in their notoriously Boy’s Club industry, rather than being further entrenched. Come on, Roxy.
The Australian Sports Commission has released a statement about the “sexploitation” in the video by saying, “The ASC considers it has a responsibility to ensure that images of female athletes are positive and are not sexualised. We discourage promotional activities that lead to female athletes being exploited.” According to the Daily Telegraph, Macquarie University professor Catharine Lumby, advisor to the ASC has said,”There is nothing wrong with celebrating fit athletic bodies, I’m all for it, but this goes way beyond,” Lumby also points out that, above all, “It is really just very voyeuristic.”
You can watch the promotional video below.