Adidas received backlash for featuring a male model in a women’s swimsuit advertisement.
The advertisement features a male modeling a one-piece swimsuit by South African designer Rich Mnisi in part of the company’s “adidas x Rich Mnisi Pride Collection,” which is described as “a celebration of self-expression, imagination and the unwavering belief that love unites.”
The women’s swimsuit advertisement features images of the male model facing front and in profile appearing to highlight his genitalia.
“We’re all unique, but we’re all connected by love,” reads the product’s description.
Adidas’ partnership is part of an effort to “honor the LGBTQIA+ community” alongside their Global Purpose partner Athlete Ally.
Critics panned the advertisement for featuring a male “bulge.”
“I don’t understand why companies are voluntarily doing this to themselves,” wrote former college championship swimmer Riley Gaines. “They could have at least said the suit is ’unisex,’ but they didn’t because its about erasing women.”
“Ever wonder why we hardly see this go the other way?”
I dont understand why companies are voluntarily doing this to themselves. They could have at least said the suit is "unisex", but they didn't because its about erasing women. Ever wondered why we hardly see this go the other way?
Women's swimsuits arent accessorized with a bulge https://t.co/ysHK8e5H9l
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) May 17, 2023
Supporters of the advertisement noted “conservatives are losing their mind.”
Adidas launched a new women’s swimwear range for the brands ‘Pride Collection’ featuring male models and conservatives are losing their mind. 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/tFYtpCGUMr
— Queer Lives Matter (@qlmoffical) May 19, 2023
“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,” Mnisi said in an Adidas news release. “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.”
Mnisi added: “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.”
Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor said the partnership with Adidas was an effort to “drive inclusivity in sport.”
“Supporting student athletes from the LGBTQI+ and their allies to push for fair access and safe participation in sport,” Taylor said. “Through our partnership, we’ve created more affirming athletic spaces to celebrate the community across sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.”