Have you ever heard of Alana Blanchard? What comes to mind when you think of her? Howbout Anastasia Ashley? Be honest guys. How many thought “dat a*s” before carves or hacks?
On the flip side, have you ever heard of Silvana Lima? If you have, chances are your impression of her is “the fiery little Brazilian who throws those crazy airs!”
Here is the sobering reality of women’s professional surfing: bums sell better than barrels.
Yes, I know the athletes are 80% naked while performing, but surf magazines shouldn’t be comparable to a Playboy. First and foremost, surfing is a sport and an art – and it deserves to be respected as such. The women’s surf industry, in particular, has faded from its roots. It’s now watered with profits generated by selling its athletes’ sexuality.
Don’t get me wrong! Silvana is a mulher bonita! During her career and her post-injury comeback, however, she has never put herself out there in a way that allowed sex appeal to overshadow her skill. The girl just wants to be the best surfer in the world and bring the title to Brazil (and bust an air or two over your head in the process). She is currently sitting comfortably on top of the QS this year with 25 heat wins – and she’s doing all this without sponsorship (anymore).
Take a look at Dimity Stoyle (11th/10 heat wins) and Johanne Defay (8th/13 heat wins). Both of these ladies absolutely rip and have been performing well despite their lack of major sponsorship. These ladies scrap to travel from one event to the next in order to compete professionally in the sport they are passionate about.
Meanwhile, Blanchard (17th) has not won a SINGLE HEAT this ENTIRE YEAR. Judging by some of her post-heat interviews, she doesn’t really seem to care either. Rip Curl continues to back her with ringing endorsement and modeling gigs, throwing money her direction so she can travel the globe. Why SHOULD she care?
Yes, I know, Blanchard can actually surf alright. But it’s tough to look up to her or even take her seriously. You have to ask yourself, did she win the 2013 Surfer Poll because she charges (she was ranked 11th at the time)? Or did she win it because of sex-appeal publicity? Does she deserve to be held up to the likes or Rochelle Ballard (2000-2002), Lynne Boyer (1979), or Lisa Anderson (1992, 1994-1999)? Is this title about progressive surfing accomplishments? Or should we change the name (since that seems to be the thing to do in professional surfing these days) to something more suitable, like ASP Prom Queen/King?
At the end of the day, I understand that professional surfing needs the financial support of the major surf brands to survive. Surf brands need to generate profits to survive. In order to generate profits, they have to sell desirable products and market those products desirable ways. That’s just business 101. But is this the reality? Or is “the marketing” actually changing the mentality of “the market”? Is the women’s surf industry promoting the wrong standards and ideals for the up and coming generation of athletes? You decide.