A woman wrote a viral essay slamming a surf brand for its ‘insulting’ ad: ‘It’s just straight objectification’


The INSIDER Summary:

  • Writer Karen Knowlton wrote an essay on Medium calling out Billabong for an ‘insulting’ ad.
  • The ad was originally on Billabong’s landing page and seemed to objectify women’s bodies.
  • A screenshot of the advertisement shows a man surfing and a woman lying on the beach in a bikini.
  • Knowlton encouraged Billabong to show more female athletes instead.
  • The post has gone viral.

For some reason, it’s difficult for some brands to advertise to women without oversexualizing them. Although things have certainly improved, they’re far from perfect.

Karen Knowlton learned this the hard way while she was online shopping at Billabong, a popular surf brand, when she said she noticed the clothes for men and women were being marketed in two very different ways.

In a screenshot that Knowlton shared on Medium, shoppers were prompted to click on an image of a man surfing to view the men’s collection, while shoppers were prompted with an image of a woman posing in a bikini on the beach to view the women’s collection.


In an August 8 Medium post entitled “F— You Billabong. Seriously, F— You,”  Knowlton accused Billabong of being sexist and objectifying women. And now it’s going viral.

In her essay, Knowlton analyzed the images in her post: “Man as subject, shredding waves. Woman as object, back arched and head dropped back for ultimate titillating effect on the viewer. This doesn’t even pretend to be an image of a woman having fun on the beach, actually enjoying her beautiful body in the perfect swimsuit. It’s just straight objectification.”

Inspired by our Aussie roots. Introducing the Legacy Collection.

A post shared by BILLABONG WOMENS (@billabongwomens) on Aug 11, 2017 at 6:52am PDT on
Aug 11, 2017 at 6:52am PDT


Knowlton also explained why she thought the brand’s alleged objectification of women is harmful.

“This is how you, as a company, see women, and it is also what you are trying to sell us about ourselves,” she wrote. “Billabong makes products for men, who go out there like bada—- and catch awesome waves, and also for women, who basically just lie around uncomfortably, waiting to be looked at and desired.”

“I get that sex sells, but just do better,” she continued. “This kind of imagery impacts the psyche of women and girls far beyond whatever marketing moron you entrusted your site to could even imagine.”

It seems as though her message has really resonated with people. Her post went viral in just a few days.

People on Twitter applauded her stance.




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