Moana Bikini: Karina Irby’s brand comes under fire for using male model Jake Young to


An Australian bikini brand has come under fire for sharing a video of a male model posing in a women’s swimsuit, almost a year after Seafolly suffered a similar fate for collaborating with non-binary influencer Deni Todorovič.

Moana Bikini, a swimsuit brand owned by body positive influencer Karina Irby, shared an Instagram video on Saturday of model Jake Young strutting around in a white one-piece swimsuit worth $130. 

‘Obsessed with this look,’ the account captioned the post, adding that ‘Moana babe’ Jake was modelling a size small.  

Scores of upset customers have since commented on the video, with many accusing Moana Bikini of ‘allowing men to encroach on women’s spaces’. 

‘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,’ one user wrote. 

Australian swimwear brand Moana Bikini has come under fire for sharing a video of male model Jake Young (pictured) posing in a women's swimsuit

Australian swimwear brand Moana Bikini has come under fire for sharing a video of male model Jake Young (pictured) posing in a women’s swimsuit

‘Sorry but Moana, this is not how you empower women. This is once again giving men the power over us and saying they do it better,’ someone else added. 

‘Horrible marketing. Why is it everyone is trying so hard to be ‘woke‘? The model is gorgeous but this is not it,’ yet another added.

Many commenters simply said they had ‘unfollowed’ the page and would no longer be purchasing Moana products. 

Scores of upset customers have since commented on the video, with many accusing Moana Bikini of 'allowing men to encroach on women's spaces'

Scores of upset customers have since commented on the video, with many accusing Moana Bikini of ‘allowing men to encroach on women’s spaces’

Moana Bikini has doubled down on its decision to share the video. 

‘If Jake in our bikini upsets you that much we feel as though this may be a you problem,’ the brand wrote in a response to an unhappy follower. 

Jake has also defended himself, insisting that his post is ’empowering to a minority’. 

Rather than apologising, however, the Moana page has doubled down on its decision to share the video. Pictured: Moana Bikini founder, body positive influencer Karina Irby

Rather than apologising, however, the Moana page has doubled down on its decision to share the video. Pictured: Moana Bikini founder, body positive influencer Karina Irby 

Jake has also defended himself, insisting that his post is 'empowering to a minority'

Jake has also defended himself, insisting that his post is ’empowering to a minority’ 

‘There are many different types of women. Women with different anatomy to what you consider ‘normal’,’ the model wrote in a comment. 

‘I am not a woman nor have I ever claimed to be. This post is simply empowering a minority & I’m forever grateful for that. Your hate is a reflection of your own insecurities, not mine.’ 

Several followers also rushed to defend the video and praise Moana for its ‘dedication to inclusivity’, with one commenting: ‘Obsessed! Thank you for always being inclusive in your sizing and models! Number one reason I will always support your brand.’ 

‘The perfect amount of masculine beauty and feminine beauty combined!’ another enthused, as someone else added: ‘Bathing suits are for anyone who wants to wear them. Why does someone in a bathing suit bother you so much?’ 

When approached for comment, Moana Bikini stood by the video.

‘We find it quite absurd that people would cherry-pick this one, individual post from our 12 years of business to make a wild statement about us not being empowering to women,’ a spokesperson said. 

‘Moana Bikini are – and have always been – one of the most inclusive and empowering brands in existence. This is not only in terms of our size and style range for women but – most importantly – in our love and acceptance of all races, ethnicities, body shapes and sizes, genders and sexual orientations. This hasn’t changed and never will change.’

They continued: ‘Many commenters are using the excuse that they believe it is ‘insulting to women,’ when in reality, it’s quite clear they are homophobic and have an issue with someone expressing their sexuality proudly and confidently.’

‘We’re happy to receive and hear people’s feedback – both negative and positive. But we’re not here to please everyone. That’s an impossible task. If people 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?’ 

‘Imagine living a life where you choose to be offended by something and stick around, comment and engage, only to make yourself more and more angry. This sounds like a them problem, not an us problem, to be honest.’

The saga is notably similar to the fracas caused in March last year when swimwear brand Seafolly worked with non-binary influencer Deni Todorovič

Deni, who uses they/them pronouns and identifies as non-binary, courted controversy after they took to Instagram with a photo of themselves posing in lime green bikini bottoms and a matching cover near Bondi Beach. 

‘This marks the first time iconic Aussie swim giants @seafollyaustralia have worked with a trans ambassador/brand partner,’ Deni innocently wrote under the image.

They later edited their caption to read: ‘Today we made history. This marks the first time iconic Aussie swim giants @seafollyaustralia have worked with a Trans person.’

The photo caused a huge backlash including calls to boycott the brand, which in the past had used models such as Miranda Kerr and Gigi Hadid in its glamorous campaigns. 

Writer Alexandra Marshall was one of those who had spoken out against the campaign, saying the swimwear brand was ‘mocking women’.  

‘Bye @seafolly. Never again. Been buying swimsuits from you for many years. Never again,’ she posted on Twitter

Seafolly later denied Todorovič was an ambassador for the brand, and said they were a ‘special guest’ to the brand’s World Pride event in Sydney.

The saga is notably similar to the fracas caused in March last year when swimwear brand Seafolly worked with non-binary influencer Deni Todorovi¿ (pictured)

The saga is notably similar to the fracas caused in March last year when swimwear brand Seafolly worked with non-binary influencer Deni Todorovič (pictured)  



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