Olive Bowers, 13, looks to makes waves for the positive portrayal of women in magazines with her angry letter to surf magazine Tracks.
What she doesn’t like is one magazine’s portrayal of women in the sport, so penned a fierce letter to complain.
Most surfers rant about poor waves or grommets cutting them up but this year 8 board member has a major beef about how Tracks magazine — a publication dubbed “the surfers’ bible” — is allegedly poorly promoting women and setting a bad example.
While recently perusing a copy of the magazine she was shocked at how few women were featured. In fact, the only female she encountered within the pages was in a ‘Girl of the Month’ section and “she wasn’t surfing or even remotely near a beach”, her letter to the Editor, Luke Kennedy, read.
With the bit firmly between her teeth Bowers went onto the Tracks magazine website to see if the situation was any better but it proved as much a wipeout for the female kind there too, instead delivering galleries of semi-clad, posing pictures rather than in-depth stories.
“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.”
In Bowers’ letter she continued her mature assessment by stating this type of portrayal is creating a negative culture among males where females are only “valued for their appearance”.
In response to the letter, Kennedy said Tracks magazine does not have a non-girl policy but “obviously they are not our primary audience. We have written extensively about female surfers in the past”.
Bowers’ crusade will see her “posse of female surfers” spreading the word for positive female portrayal. Let’s hope her voice is not just a drop in the ocean.
Here’s Oliver Bowers’ full letter to Tracks magazine:
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.