Women at the snow: We're not just eye candy

I am proud of Australia's snow media. Our dedicated snow sports magazine production levels are high and content always interesting and entertaining, we have some of the best ski and snowboard photographers around and the new breed of filmers are achieving stunning footage and edits at home and abroad.

There is, however, one thing missing, women. Grassroots ski and snowboard media in Australia does not represent the female third of the snowboard market and 40 per cent of the ski market. They simply are not there, on the pages or in the office.

Clearly if you want to sell something to a woman then package it up in a vagina.

A flick through the 130 pages of the impressive Australian New Zealand Snowboarding Magazine's current issue (from 100 per cent male editorial and photographic team) reveals a mere four images that feature women and each of those is from an advertiser and does not feature the woman actually snowboarding.

With female stars performing like Torah Bright, why aren't women given equal prominence in the snow media?
With female stars performing like Torah Bright, why aren't women given equal prominence in the snow media? 

Though I did spot a topless woman on the base of a Libtech snowboard in the magazine's hot products section. Just where she should be - with a man standing over her?

Transfer Magazine is stunningly produced but it didn't fare much better on the female stakes. Two pics of women, both in ads, one pair of Roxy pants in a product piece and a picture of a girl on rollerblades in an ad promoting their Instagram competition to win a snowboard setup for, yes, you guessed it, men.

I know the editors of the snow sports magazines, I have even written for some of them. They are awesome guys, intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate about their industry. I know they have it in them to help drive a gender change and I challenge them to do so by integrating more women into their content in a thoughtful manner.

I have written about the permeated sexism in the snow sports world globally before and in 2014 am sad that I feel the need to do so again. Some would say it starts at the top, the governing body of snowsports in Australia: Ski and Snowboard Australia. It has two women to six men on their board and an all-male staff.

Their Alpine Committee listed on their website is still all male, 10 men make up the Snowboard Committee and there are a mere two women in a team of 14 on the National Freestyle Committee. Despite Australia's female athletes being the most successful of the two genders in Australia's international competition history with 72 per cent of all medals won won by women. Two more words, Torah Bright.

It has long been proven that sports participation can build confidence and self-esteem in young women. Though god help them when they see naked representations of themselves on the boys' snowboards top and bottom sheets.

Not that the ski world gets away with it either. Armada skis think the way to market skis to women is to name them after a female body part - the VJJ ski is the women's version of the men's JJ. Clearly if you want to sell something to a woman then package it up in a vagina.

I'm no prude. We don't have to be uber serious about a sport that is fun and tongue in cheek is always a good thing, but where do real girls go to put themselves in the ski or snowboard picture? 

Chill Factor Magazine sets the industry production value benchmark and at least has some editorial about strong, capable female skiers from a male-dominated in-house team. There are three pages on Olympic skier cross athlete Katya Crema and another three written by big mountain skier Nat Segal (the only piece written by a woman in this issue) featuring what I think is the best pic in the entire magazine, also shot by a woman, Melody Sky.

The base and outerwear layer guide here is evenly split between male and female as are the ski reviews. Plus there's a story on Chicks With Stix, an all female ski and snowboard program. But really that's around 10 pages and one pic out of a 130-page issue, though there are pics of a girl on a ski trip to Japan with some blokes, only she's not skiing, she's wearing a kimono.

I want to see more girls in images and I want to see them in those images on skis and snowboards riding the white wave, not standing on the sidelines. This is a visual world after all and if girls can't connect or put themselves in a picture, if they are ostracised covertly or overtly then that impacts negatively on how they see themselves and their place in that world.

Yes, Snow Action magazine has a female feature writer (and one who rips on the slopes too by the way), but their images are male dominant too. The Ski Mag also has an intelligent comprehensive ski test guide for women, written by women, and the magazine overall features more images of women - but not necessarily skiing.

Don't get me started on equal prize money in competitions either. That's a whole other issue. Let's just ask the question, why does the Thredbo Top to Bottom race offer $2000 to the Open Male category winner and only $1000 to the Open Female category winner?

I could go on, clearly. But it is simply time for female representation in the Australian snow industry to reflect the consumer statistics.

We need to grow the extremely unbalanced gender ratio from board room to street mag level and then onto the slopes. A collaborative brainstorm may help find the how.

Go on, I dare you.

INSTAGRAM COMPETITION

We are so excited about our #misssnowitall Instagram competition this year and with a trip to Japan up for grabs who wouldn't be? Did your instagram make our gallery this week?

Thanks to the Japan experts at Liquid Snow Tours and Hakuba Hotel Group we have a trip for two to Hakuba in Japan flying direct with Jetstar from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne with seven nights at the conveniently located Hakuba Springs Hotel, daily breakfast, five of nine day multi-resort lift passes for the Hakuba Valley, welcome drinks, transfers, in resort assistance and concierge service. Now that's how you do Hakuba in style.

To enter just tag your winter inspired Instagrams with #misssnowitall.

We will choose five finalists each week for our gallery above, and come September, our guest judge will choose our finalists from the gallery and you get to judge the ultimate winner of this fantastic week in Japan. Click here for full terms and conditions.

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Email Miss Snow It All rachael.oakesash@fairfaxmedia.com.au

 

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