If you have read about Billabong’s recent faux pas with their website header image, then you will know how they responded to the backlash surrounding it. Many important figures within the industry have commented, ex- Billabong surfer Keala Kennelly is one of them.
She goes for a no holds barred approach when discussing her experience of being sponsored by Billabong and their attitude towards their female athletes. She titled the article, Keala Kennelly’s Thank You Letter for the ‘F*ck You Billabong…’ Hysteria and it is quite clear that she does not seem particularly surprised at the recent turn of events and appreciated the opportune moment to voice her opinions.
Her statements about Billabong as a sponsor are pretty shocking and highlight an issue that always seems to be repeating itself. She writes that she was sponsored by them for fifteen years but actually had her salary cut every year in the final five years despite her surfing being at a record breaking level. However, the thing that makes that in itself so much worse is that as her paycheck was dramatically decreasing, models and surfers without much athletic ability were being paid huge amounts because they fitted the mould and had a “marketable look”. The fact that her sponsor overlooked her surfing talent and more unconventional look meant that Kennelly experienced first hand the superficiality that the industry can run on.