Question time: Is this what a perfect women’s surf ad would look like?

Alana Blanchard Credit: Trent Mitchell

We’ve spent a lot of time this year banging on about what we don’t like when it comes to the way women are rep’ed in surfing. So much so that we’re almost bored of batting our keyboard in a comically dramatic fashion on the subject. So it’s rad to be able to shout about an ad campaign we do actually like. It’s for the Rip Curl My Mirage Bikini Collection and it’s produced by Clare Plueckhahn and Fran Derham, the team behind girls’ surf movie First Love and it first aired last month. Yep we’re late on it…blame Santa.

Tyler Wright Credit: Stuart Gibson

Why do we like the campaign?

1. It features pro surfers

2. These pro surfers are surfing

3. And having a good time in the ocean

4. And ok they’re also looking fairly hot in their bikinis but a lot of that hotness comes from the fact they’re larking about, being surfers and enjoying the ocean rather than pouting or preening for the cameras with dribbling dudes liking their pix as the sole purpose of their day/existence on the planet

Left to right: Alana, Nikki, Pauline Ado & Tyler Credit: Trent Mitchell

We chatted to Clare and Fran about the campaign.

What was the thinking behind it?

The idea was to highlight what the girls love about surfing in bikinis – it ended up (of course) being about the connection that each of them have with the ocean, which is something that every surfer and sun lover can relate to. Rip Curl had a framework of what they wanted to create – with a series of words that they thought reflected the My Mirage Bikini Collection. We teamed the words up with a team rider (Adventure, Escape, Freedom, Paradise & Fun) and went from there. It was pretty loose until we finished filming – but as we know the girls quite well now it was all about doing the best, most intimate interview possible and getting amazing footage. And that was us.

Nikki Van Dijk Credit: Trent Mitchell

There’s a fine line between looking like a sexy surfer athlete and say a Playboy Model in the waves, how did you ensure you didn’t cross it?

We didn’t cross it because we’re chicks. And we respect and enjoy the female form. It helps that when Clare is behind the camera the girls are more playful and less sexy. We also have a knack for picking moments that WE want to see if we were buying bikinis. It’s a taste thing.  It also helped that there was a bit of an idea behind the clips, so the focus wasn’t just on their bodies – it was more on their love of surfing and the ocean.

Following on … can a female surfer be too sexy!?

Some girls want to be sexy, and others don’t. It’s mainly about how each girl feels about how they’re portrayed in the media. There’s definitely a line – but if the person is willing to represent themselves like that – then that’s cool. It takes all types.

Do you think it’s a distraction for girls on tour to have to worry about their appearance for contests?

We’re not sure if the girls are thinking about their appearance in the lead up to a contest. The girls on the Tour have worked so hard to get there and they know that to stay on the Tour and do what they love for a living they need to focus on results. Or just surfing the way they love. But we can imagine that when it comes to the PR push they have to do surrounding the contests it would be very distracting. But it’s all part of it. It’s a job. The debate of ‘sexy sportswomen’ can go on forever. In the end it’s up to the brands to set an example. The one thing we think that really sucks is when you find girls on the Tour that don’t have a core sponsor – and really struggle to put the funds together to compete – especially when there are girls out there who aren’t as talented and dedicated and are getting sponsored purely on their social media following. If you can surf and you’re in the top 17 should have support no matter what.  


I don’t know maybe our perfect perfect surf ad would represent women on the planet a little more multiculturally and include girls with more varied shapes and sizes, but then that wouldn’t accurately portray professional women surfing either would it? And let’s not forget all these women are properly talented, top female surfers. Which is rad. There’s a super fine line between women looking beautiful and empowered and women looking sexy but in a slightly desperate designed for the male gaze kinda way and for our money this Rip Curl ad campaign sits firmly on the good, as in beautiful and empowered, side of that line. If there’s a right and a wrong kind of hotness this is definitely the right kind.

You can watch the campaign videos below but more importantly what do you think about it all? This is our last Question Time of 2013 so it would be rad to hear what you think below or on our facebook or twitter

Nikki Van Dijk

Tyler Wright

Bethany Hamilton

Alana Blanchard

Pauline Ado




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