Girl Rips Into Surf Mag For Objectifying Women Instead Of Promoting Female Surfers


How do young girls handle sexism in the world today? They speak up and use social media to get the right people’s attention. That is what one plucky Australian surfer chick just did and this story has been heard loud and clear around the world.

13 year old Olive Bowers from North Carlton, Victoria is a surfer who was fed up with the way one surf magazine in particular was portraying women in its publication. An avid surfer herself, she looks to magazines like Tracks to see other female surfers that she can look to as role models in the sport.

Unfortunately for Olive, it seems these magazines aren’t that different from any other male-targeting sports magazines where any female presence is simply to show a bit of T&A and break up the talk of statistics and scores. Instead of giving up and going elsewhere, she decided to tackle the issue head on and write a letter to the editor of the magazine, Luke Kennedy. Her mother also re-published the letter on her facebook so that the world could see what she was passionate about, just in case Tracks decided not to publish it. Smart move mom!

Olive also did some research by going on the Tracks website to see if there was any difference in the way women were portrayed, and unfortunately it was just as bad. Women showcased simply for their bikini bodies…and not much else.


”There was one video of Stephanie Gilmore surfing. That was pretty good. But even if there was a 1000 videos of girls surfing there was still that section that was called ‘Girls’ and you clicked on it and it was all girls that weren’t even surfing. Just in bikinis; models really. That really annoyed me,” she said in an interview with Daily Life website in Australia.

Olive’s outrage shows a greater problem in sport in Australia, and probably the rest of the world. The objectification of women and the lack or serious coverage of female athletes counts as a double edged sword in deterring more girls from becoming athletes. The fact that there are still some olympic sports which ban women from competing it utterly baffling!

”I’m in a girls’ [football] league, but in school sports once you’re 13, you’re not allowed to play the game,” says Olive.

She also laments that women’s sport doesn’t get a fair go and she points to an imbalance in the coverage of women’s sports in newspapers.

She would like Tracks ”to accept that women surf and that’s that. You can’t turn it into something all sexy … People would be outraged if there was a surfing thing and there were no men surfing, only pictures of nearly naked men.”


To his credit, Tracks editor Luke Kennedy did respond by saying the magazine doesn’t have anything against including more female athletes.

”But obviously they are not our primary audience. We have written extensively about female surfers in the past.”

Olive isn’t the only woman to notice the lack of great female surfers in Tracks, as a quick scan of the comments section on the website showed this comment by Nina Schebella:

“I haven’t bought or read a Tracks since 2010 on route to the Ments with my galpal for a surf trip and we were both pissed at the fact that even in the 21st century when quite often elite females surfers are carving it equal if not better than the blokes that your magazine still objectifies, sexualizes and tokenizes women. Both in the articles and the advertising…if I see another pic of guy on a wave through the crutch view of a woman I will punch the next guy who drops in on me in the water. Hopefully the new editor can add a more balanced and respectful view of life in the green room.”

To which one ignorant male responded:

“Dear Nina, please shut up, burn a bra, do whatever you have to do to get over yourself about women being objectified and sexualised in surf mags…” Oh boy…

Hey ladies, we need more of you speaking up for objectification in the media and forcing content creators to change their portrayals of women. It doesn’t matter whether a magazine is targeted at men exclusively or not, that doesn’t give anyone license or a free pass at treating women like sex objects. Believe it or not there are plenty of men out there who respect women and don’t feel the need to have their own secret little perve club.

We applaud young women like Olive who will grow up to be a positive influence on her community of friends and family. If all of us have the guts to take a stand and change what goes on around us, we will be amazed at the results.

Here’s Olive’s letter in full:

Dear Tracks Surf Magazine,

I want to bluntly address the way you represent women in your magazine. I am a surfer, my dad surfs and my brother has just started surfing.

Reading a Tracks magazine I found at my friend’s holiday house, the only photo of a woman I could find was ”Girl of the month”. She wasn’t surfing or even remotely near a beach. Since then I have seen some footage of Stephanie Gilmore surfing on your website, but that’s barely a start.

I clicked on your web page titled ”Girls” hoping I might find some women surfers and what they were up to, but it entered into pages and pages of semi-naked, non-surfing girls.

These images create a culture in which boys, men and even girls reading your magazine will think that all girls are valued for is their appearance.

My posse of female surfers and I are going to spread the word and refuse to purchase or promote Tracks magazine. It’s a shame that you can’t see the benefits of an inclusive surf culture that in fact, would add a whole lot of numbers to your subscription list.

I urge you to give much more coverage to the exciting women surfers out there, not just scantily clad women (who may be great on the waves, but we’ll never know).

I would subscribe to your magazine if only I felt that women were valued as athletes instead of dolls. This change would only bring good.




  1. cheryldelp says:

    Good for her! What has she got to lose by telling them what others are thinking. Things will only change if we bring it to the fore front.

  2. Pingback: The face (or body) of womens surfing – tahliagates

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