Bikini Company Faces Backlash Over Ad Showing Male Model In Women’s Swimsuit
Moana Bikini, a widely popular Australian swimwear brand known for its body-positive stance and led by fitness enthusiast and body-positive influencer Karina Irby, stirred up quite a backlash online. The brand’s latest ad, featuring male model Jake Young in a chic white ‘sugar slinky one-piece’ swimsuit priced at $99, became the talk of the town.
“OBSESSED WITH THIS LOOK,” the brand captioned the video, adding a heart-eyes emoji and highlighting that Young rocked a size small.
The video quickly racked up almost 8,000 likes, but not everyone was clicking the heart button. A flood of critical comments and disapproval poured in, with some calling the move a “marketing scheme” and declaring their intent to unfollow the brand. Critics mainly argued that men shouldn’t be wearing women’s swimwear. One woman even went as far as to claim that the company was “giving men the power over us and saying they do it better.”
In response, Moana Bikini and its founder, Karina Irby herself, stood their ground. They emphasized the brand’s long-standing mission of empowering “ALL bodies,” suggesting that seeing a man in women’s swimwear shouldn’t be shocking.
Jake Young, the model at the heart of the controversy, shared his viewpoint too. “I am not a woman or have ever claimed to be,” he stated, stressing that “there are many different types of women. Women with different anatomy to what you consider This post is simply empowering a minority & I’m forever grateful for that. Your hate is a reflection of your own insecurities, not mine,” he left a comment, thanking the company for the opportunity.
The brand doubled down, not only keeping the original video of Young but also adding a new photo with the caption, “Moana Babe @jakeytho is a vibe in our SLOP RUNCH BTM!” This move was seen by some customers as adding more fuel to the fire, with accusations of a “publicity stunt” being thrown around.
Moana Bikini, however, remained unshaken by the backlash. The company stated that while they welcomed both kinds of feedback, negative and positive, pleasing everyone was not on their agenda. “If people aren’t happy with this individual post of a proud, gay man wearing a piece of clothing he feels confident in… they can just keep scrolling or unfollow, can’t they?”
The brand brushed off the criticism, implying that the problem lay with the critics, not with them, by saying, “This sounds like a them problem, not an us problem, to be honest.”