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So as you may have seen Sophie Hellyer is in the press today…But it is not all as it seems.

Yesterday afternoon we got a call from the Times journo asking for comments on the hypersexualistion of womens surfing in the media claims by Sophie. Having known Sophie for many years it seemed a little out of the blue, so we asked for the original quotes. By return we got a story titled “SEXUAL SURFING NEWS COPY – WITH PICTURES” that had been released to the main stream press as a story from a south west news agency.

As it turned out the story had been put out without her knowledge condensing a very long article she wrote last year down to juicy quotes to make up a sensationalist ‘copy with photos’.

At this point we have no idea why they would do such thing. Sophie is understandably pretty upset by the misrepresentation, as well as the uncalled for comments on social media that have followed.

We find it unbelievable that someone would release such an explosive article to so many mainstream outlets without her knowledge causing so much grief. Sophie did not ask for the publicity, nor did she ask for bikini shots to be splashed all over websites. It is all in pretty poor taste.

The following is Sophies open letter to the media. Any media lawyers like to advise her, get in touch.

To The Press,

I feel you have a lot of misinformation here and that I have been quite exploited and misrepresented. I was not informed you would be writing an article about me, and I am very upset you have done so in this way. I was in the understanding the article was about the World Surfing Leagues new policy, not the following.

1. “Surf star Sophie Hellyer lets rip at bikini sexism”
Not true. I was discussing the over sexualisation of female surfers, and the imbalance and objectification i have experienced. I think it its important we overcome this unconscious bias and move away from this potentially damaging archetype of female surfers, as it is unhealthy for everyone.

2. “Sophie Hellyer, a former English champion, said that surfing was “hyper-sexualised” and complained about a fall in media coverage since she had ­decided to stop wearing a ­bikini”
Not true. I have not complained. Nor have I stopped wearing a bikini. I think there is a need for more diverse female role models to make surfing culture more healthy and empowering, leaving the world a safer, more diverse and sustainable place.

3. “Professional female surfer”
Not true. I have never made a living out of surfing, I have always had another job. Please remove this.

4. “One of Britain’s top competitors”
Not true. I haven’t competed for 10 years. If i were to compete in the British ranks now, I would definitely lose, and am not embarrassed to admit it. Please save this credit for the women who are surfing competitively and earning their titles. I do not want to take it away from them.

5. “Sophie Hellyer, 30, from Westward Ho!, in Devon, says she has suffered a drop in media coverage since she decided to stop wearing a bikini.”
I questioned whether me getting less coverage now was related to the fact I surf in a wetsuit more often than a bikini, this was discussed to highlight the issue that you don’t often see women in full wetsuits in most mainstream media (that said, Surf Girl and many other female focused & indpenedent media do include this), not to highlight myself. My point unfortunately proven by the photos you have included in your article.

6. “She also accused some men in the surf world of being “incredibly disrespectful and unsupportive”
What I actually said was “The majority of male surfers are lovely people but theres definitely the odd one here or there that are disrespectful and unsupportive.” Please do not twist my words.

7. “It does not mean I wear black and have hairy armpits.”
As discussed – there is nothing wrong with wearing black or having hairy armpits, I often have both, it’s just not a compulsory part of believing in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Taken out of context.

8. “I personally don’t like surfing in bikinis; it’s impractical. They come down all the time, I get sunburn, wax rash, slip off from sun cream and always cut myself on the reef.”
I also live in Ireland, where its obviously too cold for a bikini anyway. My quote that I referred you to was “I really like my wetsuit. It keeps us all equal. It emphasizes neutrality.” I still wear a bikini on holidays sometimes, but I often opt for leggings or a long sleeved rash guard to protect from the elements, and I also personally feel this is more respectful in Muslim countries like the Maldives.

I’m glad we have that cleared up and I look forward to hearing from you in the morning when you have made the amendments, or alternatively unpublished the articles.


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