Soapbox By Tracy Fong, owner of Deep

The “you’re pretty good for a girl” image is dead. Women are kicking ass in the snowboard world. If you are one of the many who were skeptical about the growth of women in the sport and the new products designed for their needs, take a look around. Open your eyes and see how women have progressed and how the industry has followed by providing clothes and equipment made specifically for them. These factors indicate signs of positive growth. However, we’re also seeing some disturbing trends as snowboarding matures.

Now I see ads with woman cast in the traditional role of an appendage to their snowboarder boyfriends. While an improvement over being tastelessly shown as some naked woman in bondage, the new trend seems to be depicting female riders as cute lodge divas much like skiing’s snowbunnies. It’s a typical marketing ploy by fashion designers and shows how out of touch they are with women who ride. High fashion is great for the runway, but it just doesn’t cut it on the mountain.

In addition, the stereotypical girlie thing seems to be in. Why pastel pinks, baby blues, glam fabrics, and fake fur? Female or male, those who ride require designs that put function and quality first. Fashion should naturally flow from these primary requirements.

Snowboarding isn’t cute. It is a technical sport that is physically demanding. The women I know and ride with take offense to being coddled and patronized. They’ve experienced how hard it is to become a skilled rider and take satisfaction knowing they earned it.

Another trend includes the entry of mainstream money mongers with their marketing campaigns targeted to the female segment of the sport. I’ve received numerous calls from fashion magazines, music-video art directors, and the like. They all want to be up on the latest trends and want snowboard clothes to show off in their layouts and shoots. I always ask, “Will the girls be snowboarding?”

The replies are always the same, “No, we will have the girls wearing the clothes while playing in the snow and looking cute.” Or, “We are going to have some really cool shots of the girls looking sexy and hanging out with some guys who have just finished a hard day’s work of riding the mountain.” What is it with all the fluff?

The past three years have done a lot to recognize what women have achieved in snowboarding. Now is not the time to dress them up like paper dolls. The image of an adorable, dainty, delicate female snowboarder who hangs out in the lodge and does the aprés-ski thing belongs back with the corporate designer and their runway models, not in the world of snowboarding.