I’m a woman, hear me roar!

Stephanie Gilmore

Age: 26
From: Gold Coast, Australia

With a record-breaking 5 world titles to her name, Steph Gilmore stands as one of surfing’s greatest ambassadors. Come on, who doesn’t love Steph? Yet last year all hell broke loose when the gorgeous blond starred in a controversial over-sexed Roxy ad, which some claimed to set back gender equality in sport by 40 years!

Clocking over an impressive two million views on Youtube, the video clip sparked more worldwide mainstream press than the whole history of surfing put together. Likened to a lingerie ad (which of course it was seeing as Roxy specialise in making bikinis), the campaign’s aim was two-fold: to announce the signing of Gilmore to the new Roxy team and promote the Roxy Pro Biarritz women’s world tour leg. Purposefully provocative, the ad contained no surf action but did squeeze twelve shots of the champs behind into 1 minute and 46 seconds.

Had the girls gone on to blow up at the event, Roxy may well have pulled it off. But in an unfortunate turn of events it all went (if you’ll pardon the expression) tits up when the event had to be re-scheduled due to lack of swell (a result of the event running mid-summer to maximise exposure rather than athletic performance).

But what was Gilmore’s take on it all? In an interview with the Courier Mail she said, “When girls embrace their femininity and sexuality, it’s not taking away from their power and athleticism at all; they’re combining the two sides, and that’s a very powerful combination for a girl to have.”

But for someone who admits to having often been treated as a tomboy, people might ask who exactly gets to define femininity? Or for that matter that fine invisible line between too sexy and not bloody sexy enough? Having already posed nude for ESPN in 2011, Gilmore struggled desperately to see what all the fuss was about.

In hindsight, however, it seems much of the hoo-ha stemmed from people expecting the campaign to be a straight-forward ad for a sporting event, uncomfortable at the idea of blurring the divide between sport, fashion and sex. But hold on a minute, isn’t that the surfing “lifestyle” we all bought into since day one?


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