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The surfing video that everyone is talking about.

By NATALIA HAWK

When the video was first uploaded to Youtube a few weeks ago, I was very quick to click on it.

My first reaction was: Why did I just spend two minutes of my life essentially staring at another girl’s butt when I was supposed to be watching a video about a surfing event?

Roxy surfer Sally Fitzgibbons gearing up for Roxy Pro (pic from Roxy’s Facebook page)

My second reaction was: WHERE IS THE SURFING?

Because, believe it or not, that wasn’t an ad for hair removal cream or a lingerie brand. It was a promo for Roxy Pro Biarritz, a surfing contest for professional female surfers run by women’s fashion and surfing brand, Roxy.

Roxy Pro has been running every year for the last eight years and brings together top women surfers from around the world in the surfing capital of Europe.

I love Roxy. Love the promotion they do for women’s surfing all around the world, love the events they sponsor and support – not only for surfing but also for snowboarding.

But I hated their promo video. HATED it.

And women everywhere are – understandably – reacting the same way. Roxy is being slammed for unnecessarily sexualising women’s sport, for making something that’s supposed to be about professional athletes into soft porn.

The woman whose face you hardly get to see is Stephanie Gilmore. A phenomenal sporting champion and an outstanding role model for young women.

Yes, Stephanie Gilmore also happens to be hot. We get the freaking picture. But we can get that without the music, lighting and close ups of her well-waxed legs.

JUST SHOW US SOME SURFING ALREADY.

Some will no doubt jump to the defence of the video, trying to say that hey – at least there IS a women’s surfing event to promote. At least there are female professional athletes to feature in the video.

Stephanie Gilmore can actually surf. (Photo from Stephanie Gilmore’s Instagram)

And I admit that, not so long ago, there were no women’s surfing events at all. Up until the 1970s, there were so few female surfers that they had to compete in men’s events.

So it’s fabulous that professional female surfers now even have the opportunity to participate against other seriously talented females.

And I really appreciate what Roxy does for women’s sport in general. I own several of the pieces from their Outdoor Fitness range. They are great.

But I want female athletes to be able to have their cake and eat it too. I don’t just want them to be able to play sport and play it well – I want them to get as much money and as much coverage and kudos as male athletes. And I want that to happen regardless of how they look.

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And at the moment – throughout every sport, on every level – women’s sport is all about aesthetics.

Exhibit A: Leisel Jones being criticised for her weight just before the 2012 Olympics, with everyone speculating about whether she was fit enough to even swim. She went on to win a silver medal.

Exhibit B: The Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, having to pose for a nude calendar in 2000 in order to earn some money and attention.

Exhibit C: Women playing Olympic-level beach volleyball had to, up until last year, wear bikinis while the men got to wear t-shirts and shorts. Despite the rule change, many of them continue to wear bikinis, knowing that it’s the reason it remains one of the most-watched sports of the Olympics.

Exhibit D: The latest story out of the UK, about BBC broadcaster John Inverdale. After 28-year-old Marion Bartoli took out the women’s Wimbledon title this weekend, Inverdale said: “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘you’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?”

Marion

Because in women’s sport, being a looker is all that matters. Or so it seems.

And – like every woman who takes part in any sport, at any level – I have had to fight this battle too.

Like the time when I was sitting at a sailing presentation for the national championships and they called up the top female skipper to present her with a trophy. Someone sitting behind me said, “that can’t be a girl, look at her arm muscles”.

Everyone laughed. I did not.

That was around the same time that I found out that most of the men in the sport had been referring to me as “boobs” behind my back.

Not by my name. Simply, “boobs”.

So, Roxy – as much as I love you most of the time – when you produce these videos, it isn’t helping us fight the cause. As female athletes, we have enough trouble fighting for ourselves. We have enough trouble attempting to prove that there’s so much more to us than how hot we may or may not be.

So get rid of the soft porn and show us some really great surfing. Please.

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