Roxy decided to promote the Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013, part of the Women’s World Championship Tour of Surfing, with an advertisement featuring racy shots of a nearly naked blonde woman who turns out to be pro-surfer Stephanie Gilmore. The commercial's critics say that the objectification of Gilmore's body -- and frequent close-ups of her butt -- do little to promote women's surfing as a serious sport.
Disturbed surf fans and social media users took to Roxy's Facebook page this week to criticize what some called the advertisement's unnecessary "sexploitation" of a female athlete.
"I am not bothered about sexy commercials, sex sells as do attractive bodies. She's a pro surfer that is what their figure looks like," wrote one commenter. "But I am bothered you 'promote' a world tour surfing event focusing entirely around a woman's butt. Aimed at who?! Not women thats for sure."
"Utterly disgusted that a brand which promotes natural beauty with vast female base clients focus so much on sexualising a female athelete's body when promoting a world surfing event," another wrote.
Others liked the commercial:
"For some women, surfing at times can be an extremely sensual thing. Nothing wrong with showing the sensual side of getting ready to paddle out," someone wrote.
Roxy addressed the criticism on its Facebook page:
Obviously, there's been much conversation around the video we recently released. We believe all athletes are naturally beautiful, in and out of the water. You certainly don't have to be sexy to be an athlete, & we also believe it's not wrong to be an athlete and to be sexy, if you choose to be. We don't judge one to be better than the other & we don't believe in excluding one for the other.
Roxy later released a more complete version of the advertisement, which did feature shots of Gilmore surfing.