Swimwear company Moana is facing a backlash after featuring a man in an ad for its line of women’s bikinis, but the company is defiant in the face of the criticism.
Detractors quickly spoke up after the Australian company hired male model Jake Young to showcase its lacy one-piece bathing suit that retails for $99, according to the New York Post.
“OBSESSED WITH THIS LOOK,” Moana wrote on its Instagram page, adding that “Jake wears a size S.”
But many customers were not impressed by Jake’s cavorting around and swiping back his hair dramatically in the “size S” swimsuit. They said so in explicit terms in the comments of the company’s Instagram post.
“Sorry but Moana, this is not how you empower women,” one woman commented. “This is once again giving men the power over us and saying they do it better.”
“Why can’t men be men? I’m over this narrative,” another wrote.
One woman blasted the actual marketing sense of the ad, writing, “This is bad advertising if the target audience is women. A man wearing a piece designed for women….not going to make most women want to buy it.”
A commenter said Moana lost her as a customer. “Will never ever buy here again! This is a disgrace to women!” she wrote.
Another joked that Moana was the next Bud Light.
“Lol apparently your marketing team learned nothing from Budweiser or targets major loss. Hopefully it was worth the loss in revenue,” the comment read.
Of course, plenty of comments also supported Moana for putting a man in a woman’s swimsuit.
Moana, though, was defiant — even militant — in its response to the detractors. The company blasted its critics, telling customers, “If Jake in our bikini upsets you that much we feel as though this may be a ‘you’ problem.”
The company told the Daily Mail that anyone who criticizes the ad is “absurd.”
“We find it quite absurd that people would cherry-pick this one individual post from our 13 years of business to make a wild statement about us not being empowering to women,” the company said in a statement.
“Moana Bikini are — and have always been — one of the most inclusive and empowering brands in existence. This is not only in terms of our size and style range for women, but — most importantly — in our love and acceptance of all races, ethnicities, body shapes and sizes, genders and sexual orientations,” the spokesman said, adding, “This hasn’t changed and never will change.”
“Many commenters are using the excuse that they believe it is ‘insulting to women’ when, in reality, it’s quite clear they are homophobic and have an issue with someone expressing their sexuality proudly and confidently,” the company continued.
“We’re happy to receive and hear people’s feedback — both negative and positive. But we’re not here to please everyone. That’s an impossible task. 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?”
“Imagine living a life where you choose to be offended by something and stick around, comment, and engage only to make yourself more and more angry,” the statement concluded.
Moana has pushed out many photo shoots of its swimwear featuring a “body positivity” message with models who are older or overweight, have surgical scarring, and who otherwise don’t fit the glamorous beau ideal of beauty.