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Does The Image of Scuba Diving Reflect Your Style?
DiveWithMia - 1/24/2014 6:52 PM
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Comments: 9
Does The Image of Scuba Diving Reflect Your Style?What is the image of scuba diving today? Looking at campaigns recruiting the younger generation it reminds me of an old guy putting on “hip” clothes and trying to act like he’s young again with the end result being the people not really wanting to be affiliated with him.

Like many sports, and thanks to the “Old Guys’ Club”, diving has historically been gender-biased, reeking of machismo and exclusivity. This attitude towards the sport, which may have been generated by the old school navy origins of diving, still has some surprising remnants existing in what I would consider a pretty progressive and forward thinking society. For example, have you ever been around scuba divers and heard (like I have) them use such expressions as “Be a Man”, “Don’t be a pussy”, “Put Your Big Girl Panties On”, or for example, the heading used in the Men’s Health magazine article on scuba diving (if anyone can find a link to this article that would be so appreciated) and promoted at the PADI Member Forum 2014 in Victoria, BC, Canada by PADI Canada Regional Manger Randy Giles on January 22nd, 2014: [the diving industry is] “A Man’s World”? I’ve even heard of DEMA shows where female employees weren’t invited and male employees were given cash for strip shows and lap dances.

No wonder the dive industry’s style department has only recently been pushed to the forefront. Female scuba divers’ only option has been to push through and fit their lovely bodies into dive suits that made them look like men, so that they could do the sport they loved. I imagine a scuba diver back then who expressed any interest in style or fashion (male or female) would have been castrated…Sylvia Earle remains every water woman’s hero for the incredible contributions she has done to ocean research in addition to have survived through all of that nonsense!

Now, that’s definitely not to say all scuba divers are like that – quite the contrary. Today things are changing as equipment manufacturers are starting to recognize that females make up a larger percentage of the diving industry (34% in 2012 according to the PADI Worldwide Corporate Statistics for 2007-2012). Industry leaders are beginning to create gear and marketing campaigns specifically for women.
However, as a female scuba diver, I feel the scuba dive industry has missed their mark in identifying what I really want.

The items on offer are totally unappealing and even lingering on (dare I say it??) sexist. Simply adding the colour pink or swirls and flowers feels condescending and doesn’t reflect my personality and style. Why aren’t there still any other options? I wonder if I’m alone in my opinions on this one.

Is this image of an unstylish, gender-biased dive industry all just in my head? Looking back at my career as a professional dive instructor serving recreational divers in hotels, on charter yachts, in dive shops, and in private lessons, here’s what I’ve observed about people who dive.

First and foremost, all scuba divers are incredibly passionate about the underwater world. I’ve taught diving to fantastically excited Arab women in private women-only swimming pools in Dubai, enjoyed underwater adventures with determined male and female divers in their 80s, and communicated emphatically with non-English speaking Italians about the most amazing dive we had just done together. The passion and enthusiasm in scuba divers is evident, not to mention contagious!

Divers are wildly (or sometimes timidly) adventurous. They are curious people who enjoy feeling the thrill of exposing themselves to a vastly different environment. Many love swimming out to the deep blue to hover in the water column without the bottom or surface in sight and be humbled by the great space that exists down there. Others are fascinated by the enormous number of animals both large and small to be seen and the excitement of chance encounters that render the diver feeling like they’ve just won the ultimate jackpot. Whether they’re diving the same lake or reef each time, or they’re traveling to the far corners of the world, desire to explore is a common thread among all.

Divers are social people. Dive shops are always a hub of activity and function as a place to gather and to talk diving (which divers LOVE to do!). Oftentimes, small bars and cafes will pop up inside a dive shop as divers enjoy a cup of coffee before their first dive of the day, and then of course the “post-dive beer alongside log book signing” is almost a mandatory part of scuba diving. Dive professionals become immediate friends, ready to provide a valuable source of information, and usually some of the coolest people on the planet.

So, if divers are passionate, adventurous, and social – how is it that the scuba diving market is just so damn lame?

Some of you may know that I’ve been working on a business idea for a women’s wetsuit, researching the market and paying particular attention to the scuba diver persona along with his/her lifestyle. What I’ve noticed is a huge disconnect in how they are represented by diving brands around the world.

The dive industry really started to gain momentum in the 1970s, cultivated primarily by men. It was defined BY them and designed specifically FOR them and as decades went on, these pioneers of scuba diving aged, leaving old guys with big beer bellies, a legacy of dated attitudes, a misrepresentation of who scuba divers really are, and an overall dowdy image of the sport. This may be a bold move, but I’d like to make a request and purposefully exclude all the overweight, out-of-shape and out-of-date scuba diving population who’ve come to dominate the scene.

I’d like to invite all those active, fun, and healthy individuals (both male and female) who have a thirst and yearning for living a life less ordinary to fulfill my dream of re-inventing the image of scuba diving.

My goal is to give a voice to all scuba divers from around the world of all ages, genders, and various cultural and economic backgrounds on this topic in order to determine the following hypotheses with solid concrete evidence:
1. There is an un-represented population of scuba divers.
2. It is possible to re-invent the image of scuba diving, showing who we are and inviting future generations of fit, healthy, confident scuba divers into our sport.

I want to hear from you – women, men, young, old, beginner and expert! Please let me know what you think about the image of scuba diving today and if you feel you are being accurately represented. Just drop me a personal email via or leave a message on Your feedback and that of your scuba diving friends is absolutely invaluable, so please share widely.

Yours truly,

Mia Toose - PADI Scuba Dive Skills, Experience, and Passion for Life!


daz88 - 2/03/2014 9:46 PM
I also think it is ridiculous you post…
“I’d like to invite all those active, fun, and healthy individuals (both male and female) who have a thirst and yearning for living a life less ordinary to fulfill my dream of re-inventing the image of scuba diving.”
And also write……
“This may be a bold move, but I’d like to make a request and purposefully exclude all the overweight, out-of-shape and out-of-date scuba diving population who’ve come to dominate the scene.”
You want to re-invent the image of scuba diving but you want to exclude the scuba diving population who’ve come to dominate the scene? Well….how do you plan to do that?
Personally, I don’t care who I dive with as long as they are a good diver. (which doesn’t mean experienced) I don’t care man, women, young old, in shape, out of shape, white, black, yellow, brown, green, purple. I don’t care if they are for “beautiful” , “Stylish”, “successful” ……I care about the character of who I dive with. You are looking for “beautiful” , “Stylish”, “successful” think that’s what makes a good diver? Good luck on your quest.
DiveWithMia - 2/05/2014 5:17 PM
Hi Daz88! Thank-you so much for reading the article and offering your valuable feedback. While writing the article, I pondered for a long time (days actually) about using the term "exclude" in my article. In the end, I knew that I wanted to write a provocative piece that would spark a little discussion and possibly some attention so I decided to include it. Like you, I don’t care who I dive with; I enjoy diving with "not so good" divers and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter at all what we are wearing while diving. I realize that. But for me, since scuba diving is such a huge part of my life (it IS my life), I am saddened that I (and it appears that others too) cannot identify with the leaders who are supposed to represent me to the world. I feel that a huge segment of the scuba diving market has been excluded by those that are "dominating the scene" right now and my plan is to start simply with creating a dialogue on the topic with those divers who aren’t being represented and build a community from there. In addition, I’d like to always encourage all divers to partake in a healthy, positive, lifestyle in and out of the water. I think your wish for my good luck on this quest is quite possibly sarcastic, but I’m gonna take it any way and say Thanks again for your input while I am on this awesome journey!
LatitudeAdjustment - 1/28/2014 9:31 AM
I always thought diving was a mans world but found on most’s trips that most of the divers were female. Even made a joke about it on one of my photo post doing a take off on the Mastercard ad. "Having diner in Cozumel with a bunch of beautiful women and realizing that they had paid their own way, Priceless!"
DiveWithMia - 1/31/2014 5:16 PM
I talk about that in the article...I believe there are many more women interested and actively involved in scuba than what it looks like when you take a glance at the image of the industry. I’m currently exploring this topic in more detail as those beautiful, successful, and avid scuba diving women establish their own presence in the industry.
Greg - 1/25/2014 11:34 AM
I have only been in the dive industry since 2006. Since then, I have not noticed much of a change in that short amount of time. The economic situation has kept the industry from growing rapidly, since scuba diving is an expensive sport. But technology in our industry has continued to improve at a decent pace. The sport is safer now than it was 20 years ago...which increases the pool of interested people. It’s no longer a dangerous and complicated activity. Scuba is still dominated by males, with a slow growing female audience.
DiveWithMia - 1/25/2014 3:37 PM
Technology and research in safety are integral parts of the growth of our industry and I’d say the female diving presence is more prevailing than what current statistics are revealing. However, I want to emphasize the lack of STYLE evident throughout the industry. Clearly functionality is the first consideration in purchasing equipment/apparel, but I want to know if you feel the gear/apparel that’s available to you is attractive on a personal style level. And in any case, is this at all important to you (on a scale of 1 - 5 where 5 is very important and 1 is not important at all). What do you think? Thanks for your feedback!!
Greg - 1/27/2014 5:32 AM
This past survey might help answer that question. Does your scuba gear have to match (colors and brand):
Greg - 1/27/2014 5:35 AM
For me personally, style is still on the bottom of my list. That may change as safety, reliability, easy-of-use, etc. becomes more standard in scuba gear. In other words, once all gear operates at about the same level, then I might begin to care about style. I am sure there are many other divers out there thay may disagree. Just look for the ones with the custome print wetsuits :)
DiveWithMia - 1/30/2014 10:38 PM
Greg! That is exactly the kind of info I’m looking for! I really appreciate your personal insights as well as the link to the forum. They are very useful to me! As soon as my survey on the topic is done I hope you’ll provide some formal feedback that way as well. Thanks again :D