The answer is – Not for wearing a floral or a pink BCD that’s for sure.. Recently we put a post on Facebook asking for ladies opinions on a new ladies BCD we were considering stocking and the feedback was really useful. Personally I thought the styling was a bit out there (but I'm a man so what do I know?) and I wanted to see if our customers thought the same. I was wrong, the consensus was that it was a good BCD and many really liked the styling (my wife was not as surprised at this as I was) and we have decided to start stocking it at Simply Scuba. I wrote a blog post a while ago about why women should use a gender specific BCD, if you have time it's worth a read in relation to what I’m about to discuss.
Some of the feedback was really insightful – and quite surprising. A few female divers commented on the pink colour way and the use of floral embroidery and seemed to relay that they would not be taken seriously as a diver if they wore these. I think of the fifty or so comments, only one from a man could be labelled chauvinistic, but the majority of negative comments were from women themselves on these two points. We discussed the comments in the office with some female members of staff and came to conclusion that some female divers feel that any attempt at being feminine makes them a target for ridicule. But why should a woman try and be masculine to participate in a sport which clearly does not require it? I like to think that diving is something that can be enjoyed by everyone and although like many sports, it’s dominated by men, I’m not sure it’s ever been an exclusive club - despite the lack of gender-specific kit suggesting otherwise. One female member of staff commented that maybe it would be mainly women (and not men) who wouldn’t take other women seriously if they chose to wear something floral and ‘girly’ or ‘barbie-ish’. Do male divers really think a woman is less of a diver if she chooses to add feminine touches to her dive gear? Personally from my own, male perspective, I would say this is not true. When I taught in the tropics (a good few years ago) female divers often complained about how little women specific kit there was and how they were forced to use kit designed for men and how uncomfortable it was. There used to be a military saying that any fool can be uncomfortable. Now we have gender specific dive gear and some women are afraid to use it! Do these women not wear female specific clothing in case other people judge them on it out of the water? If wearing a BCD with flowers on it reduces your ability to dive then all scuba manufacturers take note, make all-black-non-gender-specific-only kit from now on so that we are all equal. It's worth remembering that pink is one of the first colours to disappear underwater so the issue of colour is only really a surface one.
Some of the best divers I know are women, why should they not try to look feminine whilst diving if they want? Many male divers try to look masculine, slightly techie, does it make them a better divers? Nope. Looking slightly techie can be a warning sign that a potential problem has just entered the water! I would add as an experienced instructor, diving in good fitting equipment massively helps divers in the water and if that means gender specific then you should absolutely go with it. Needing rescuing due to inappropriate kit is seriously less cool than what others may think. If the colour or shape of your dive gear indicates how good a diver you are maybe we should introduce a colour grading system similar to judo belts? Seriously though, dive in the kit you are most comfortable with, be yourself, have fun and dive safely.