Iconic surf label Rip Curl is the latest brand facing a customer backlash after it featured Australian professional trans surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson in a new online campaign.
The Australian born brand was bought by Kathmandu in 2019 for $350 million and last week it featured the 44-year-old Lowerson on Rip Curl Women’s Instagram page that surf wear bosses quickly pulled after it was mercilessly roasted.
It comes just months after Rip Curl dropped former brand ambassador, the American Bethany Hamilton, reportedly over her opposition to transgender people competing in women’s competitions.
Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a 2003 shark attack but returned to professional surfing, threatened to boycott the World Surf League in February last year after a ruling allowing trans athletes to compete in women’s competitions.
Sasha Jane Lowerson in action
And in the latest case of brands’ “go woke, go broke”, Rip Curl customers are now threatening to boycott the brand.
People taking to social media to vent their rage, primarily at Lowerson being allowed to compete in women’s tournaments and claim the prize money.
“Six months from now, Rip Curl announces that it is laying off half of its staff,” penned one.
“This is an actual war on women. Where are the feminists?” yelled another.
“You don’t care about women, stop pretending. Secret’s out,” one woman wrote.
Another said: “Boycotting your company. Enjoy your Bud Light moment.”
Another added: “How are the advertising team not getting fired for this, how many companies have been damaged and they still use the larping blokes in their campaigns. I thought they had to know trends, not watching hard enough.”
“They could not have made their contempt for women clearer,” said another.
“Yeah, I stand with Bethany Hamilton on this. Not cool,” another said.
Now American pro skater Taylor Silverman has joined in the Rip Curl fracas. Silverman has been an outspoken opponent of trans people competing in women’s events, using their apparent physical strength to regularly take home the winner’s cheque. While people applauded Silverman for standing up for women’s rights, others have labelled her as transphobic.
Commenting on X/Twitter next to Lowerson’s post, Silverman said: “According to Rip Curl this man is a ‘waterwoman’…reality is he’s just a mentally ill man making a complete mockery of actual women and the ‘community’ is so supportive that Rip Curl had to disable the comments!”
Eleven-times men’s world champion, Kelly Slater, also endorsed similar thinking, saying: “Make a trans division [in surf competitions], and we don’t have this confusion.”
Riley Gains, a former All-American swimmer and outspoken activist against trans women in female sports, responded to the campaign, stating: “Encouraging to see so many people reply that they’re throwing out their Rip Curl apparel and pledging not to buy from them again.”
Lowerson wrote next to her Insta post: “Sometimes it isn’t even the actual surf, it’s the journey itself, the chats that we have in the car on the long straight roads here in WA and the campfire afterwards. Friendships grow on the search and I love that.”
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