Adidas has come under fire for advertising a female-style swimming costume using a model with a penis.
The swimsuit, launched as part of the brand’s Pride Rich Mnisi collection in collaboration with South African designer Rich Mnisi, is on sale in the UK for £50. The model, who appears to be male, is 6ft 2in.
The move has prompted criticism from campaigners for women’s equality in sport, who argue that the use of a biologically male model for a women’s swimsuit creates unrealistic body expectations for women.
Sharron Davies, former Olympian swimmer and the author of Unfair Play, a book critiquing the inclusion of biological males in women’s sport, wrote on social media: “Yet again a male gets paid to advertise a product that’s vastly aimed at women who are physically a different shape.
“Adidas if you want to design a swimsuit for trans women, right on. They have different needs. But stop gaslighting women?”
She added that women were “having all their descriptive words and rights eroded”.
Mara Yamauchi, a British long-distance track and road-running athlete, said: “If men want to wear gender non-conforming clothing, sure, go ahead.”
“But if this is aimed at female swimmers, there are thousands of wonderful, athletic females [Adidas] could have paid to model this. Instead they chose a man. Brands erasing women.”
Adidas is not the first global brand to be criticised for using biologically male trans models in advertising campaigns.
Budweiser recently faced a backlash for using trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney on its cans of Bud Light.
And when Mulvaney featured in a Nike bra advert, this also prompted calls from consumers for a boycott of the Nike brand.
At the time, Davies described using Mulvaney to promote the bra as a “kick in the teeth” for women.
This week, beer brand Miller Lite defended its “pro-women” advert following a conservative backlash.
The beer brand released an advert celebrating Women’s History Month with comedian Ilana Glazer condemning Miller and other beer brands’ past use of scantily-clad women to sell their products.
Clay Travis, conservative commentator, described both Budweiser and Miller Lite as “broken” in response to the adverts, stating that they had “no idea who actually consumes their products”.
The swimming costume is sold in the women’s section of the Adidas US website with women’s clothing sizes.
The UK Adidas website advises that the swimsuit is sold under its UniteFit gender-neutral sizing system, “created according to different body types, shapes and sizes, instead of gender norms and standards”.
The company advises what size to buy for customers who usually buy men’s or women’s sizes.
Rich Mnisi, the designer, said: “In creating this collection, I had a strong impulse to speak to my inner child and express to the world how LGBTQ+ allyship can create a legacy of love.
“Unifying these themes together through my own visual language and Adidas’ iconic performance and lifestyle pieces is a powerful combination, making the collection a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQ+ advocacy.
“My hope is this range inspires LGBTQ+ allies to speak up more for the queer people they love and not let them fight for acceptance alone.”