The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

#WhoAmIJustGuess: Is this what Surfer Girls do?

Roxy Pro Biarritz 2013 Official Teaser

Roxy's new ad for their upcoming Roxy Pro 2013 women's world surfing championship in Biarritz, France, has left me not only baffled, but also slightly enraged. The entire video centers on a mysterious pro surfer waking up, getting ready for the day, and heading to the beach. All while very skimpily clad.

Not once does this mystery girl surf. She paddles out into the water, but I never actually see her surfing.

So...what is Roxy actually having a competition for if the women are only there to model swimsuits that seem a size too small?  Is this what surfer girls do?

Given the latest results for a Google search on "surfer girls," it appears so. Though the results do show girls actually in the water, most results also feature the "hottest" or "sexiest" girls. In fact, it wasn't until the bottom of the first page of results before I even reached a decent result on surfer girls, from SurfGirl Magazine (who, coincidentally, is also enraged at Roxy’s latest ad).

In fact, even looking at some of the competitors, I'm surprised these girls haven't boycotted the competition. Most of the profile shots don't even feature the girls in swimwear, let alone surfing! While most of their stats are amazing, their bios are sadly lacking.  

The Roxy competition websites shows off only the statistics of the girls, never mentioning whether any of them faced significant challenges in their careers, and the bios I have found (courtesy of Red Bull) are just as enraging as the ad. For example, Sally Fitzgibbons's bio on the Red Bull site only talks about how she is a "crossover" of the barrier between "physically attractive [surfers] and the girls who ripped."  And though it alludes to her skills, it is all with language highlighting that she'll "look damn good" in whatever competition she wins.

It's a pity that Roxy can't showcase the fiercer side of surfer girls. The girls who are braving the dangers and stereotypes to perform feats that leave me baffled, without having to pose half-naked for a camera. Especially the girls who go against social norms to do so, like Shoruq and Rawan Abo Ghanem of Gaza.  In order to pursue their passion, they enlisted the help of international friends and NGOs to get surf gear and even had custom surf wear made to adhere to the strict dress codes of their culture. Yet once they turn fifteen, their culture will forever forbid them from surfing. 

Shoruq and Rawan try out their new custom swimwear, designed by the Surfing 4 Peace team and delivered as part of the Gaza Surfer Girl Project. Find out more about the design process here.

Shoruq and Rawan are only two of the many brave surfer girls that I've begun researching for Girl Museum's upcoming exhibition, Surfer Girls. There are so many more amazing stories, from the well-known Bethany Hamilton to the thousands of unknown girls braving cultural barriers, physical handicaps, and dangerous waters to pursue their passion.

I'd like the next Roxy ad–or any ad on surfer girls–to show that. It would make me actually want to watch the competition to see what these girls are made of, rather than think I’m watching a Victoria's Secret ad and switch the channel.

And if you happen to be a surfer girl–or know any surfer girls–who would like to be part of our upcoming exhibition, let us know! We're searching for the stories of surfer girls around the world, along with pictures, videos, and artwork, to help us show how surfing empowers girls.

-Tiffany Piotti
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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