Bikini Company Receives Backlash for Using Male Model to Showcase Women’s Swimsuit

Moana Bikini, a swimwear company founded by Australian body-positivity influencer Karina Irby, has come under fire for having a male model pose in a women’s swimsuit.

Australian swimwear brand Moana Bikini sparked controversy after posting a video of male “Moana babe” Jake Young parading in a white women’s swimsuit on its Instagram page. The backlash was almost instantaneous, with thousands of people leaving critical comments and slamming the company for going too far with what they called a “marketing scheme”. The company and its founder have hit back at critics, claiming that Moana Bikini has been empowering “ALL bodies” for years, so a man in a women’s swimsuit shouldn’t really shock anyone.

Photo: Moana Bikini/Instagram

”Moana has been empowering ALL bodies since 2011. This video really should [sic] shock you at all. If you have to announce your ‘anger’ I strongly urge you to listen to – YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN by Taylor Swift, as I believe it was written for you,” Karina Irby commented on the situation.

It’s important to note that the controversial clip of male model Jake Young got thousands of likes on Instagram alone, but the comments section told a different story. Of the over 2,000 comments, most are critical of the company, claiming that using a male model for female clothes is not how you empower women.

“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,” one comment read.


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“Is that a man? I thought you were about empowering women? Men seem to be trying to take over everything women hold sacred. Our safe spaces, our identity and now our fashion. I’m sorry you support whatever you like but I don’t agree with men in women’s swimsuits and trying to market it towards women. I’ve been a loyal customer for ten years but I’m done,” a disgruntled Moana customer wrote.

As for the model, Jake acknowledged that he was not a woman and that he was never claimed to be one, but added that the clip was empowering a minority, for which he is “forever grateful”.

“There are many different types of women. Women with different anatomy to what you consider,” Young wrote in the comments. “This post is simply empowering a minority & I’m forever grateful for that. Your hate is a reflection of your own insecurities, not mine.”


The reaction of Moana Bikini to the criticism has been quite unapologetic. Acknowledging that it was impossible to please everybody, the company accused those complaining about the company not empowering women of being homophobic, and wrote that “if they 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?”

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