‘Don’t see me as a feminist’: Russian athlete distances herself from Reebok ‘sit on man’s face’ ad

‘Don’t see me as a feminist’: Russian athlete distances herself from Reebok ‘sit on man’s face’ ad
Russian grappler Anzhelika Pilyaeva has distanced herself from the furor surrounding a Reebok ad campaign which included a message for women to empower themselves by “sitting on a man’s face.”

Reebok launched the ads earlier this week, putting a distinctly Russian spin on its “Be More Human” campaign which features stars such as ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Nathalie Emmanuel.

READ MORE: Reebok embraces social justice in Russia with bizarre ‘face-sitting’ feminist ad

The sportswear giant’s Russian version was more risqué, and included feminist influencer Zalina Marshenkulova imploring women to empower themselves with a message translating as: “Sit not on the needle of a man’s approval – sit on a man’s face.” 

Another message featured MMA fighter Justyna Graczyk, apparently warning that she had razor-sharp breasts in a post which translated as: “I covered my nipples so that you don’t cut yourself.”

A third participant in the campaign - which ran with the hashtag 'not fit for frames' - was European champion grappler Anzhelika Pilyaeva, who has now distanced herself from the controversial quotes.

Pilyaeva appeared in images alongside more conventional messages, including: “Oh, that’s not all” as she throws a jab at the camera.

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#нивкакиерамки ⠀ Как вы знаете моя история вообще не вписывается ни в рамки, ни в общепринятые стандарты жизни♦️ ⠀ Девушка - борец 🤼‍♂️ сразу возникает куча вопросов. Но что действительно важно - то что общество перестаёт следовать традиционным убеждениям и выходит на новый уровень мышления. А в мой семье всё просто Папа борец, Мама борец и единственная дочка - вы уже догадались ☺️ В 4 года у меня случился открытый перелом бедра, а все потому что #ЯПобедительпоЖизни 😅 преодолели и даже это не остановило нас идти по выбранному пути. Одновременно с борьбой - музыкальная школа по классу фортепьяно. Тогда многие спрашивали как так? Пальчики бегают по клавиатуре легко? 🎹 Отвечу: - просто надо быть упорным во всем. Но если б задали сейчас этот вопрос - скажу с Джиу-Джитсу совмещать труднее #oss To be continued... Присоединяйтесь к нам, будем двигать прогресс вместе @reebok_russia #нивкакиерамки#BeMoreHuman#reebok#jiujitsu#fight#wrestling#bjj#ufc#mma#fitgirl#fightmodel#model#sport#fightwesr#fighter#oss

Публикация от Anzhelika Pilyaeva (@angilika)

The champion grappler told Russian TV channel Rossiya 24 that she didn’t want people to see her as a feminist, despite the ‘face-sitting’ message proclaimed by Marshenkulova.

“Personally, I participated in this ad as an athlete who says to girls, ‘don’t be afraid, do what you want,'”she said.  

“I just ask everyone who saw the advertisement and does not know me personally, not to see me as a feminist and just separate the whole story with Zalina [Marshenkulova] from us,” she added.

Reebok promptly deleted the more controversial messages in the campaign, explaining that they could not be published "due to the age policy of the social network" - but not before Russians had had a field day with takes on the face-sitting quote in particular.

One popular tweet featured Arya from ‘Game of Thrones’ in the Hall of Faces, with the line: “Arya Stark is looking for where to sit.”

Reebok's Russian marketing director, Alexander Goloshap, reportedly resigned over the scandal a day after the posts went viral - but not without taking a shot at the company.

"The company showed disrespect for itself: it signed up to this, approved all the quotes, was even delighted with how bold and interesting and in line with the global strategy to do something bright and unusual," he told Euronews.

READ MORE: 'If there will be accusations of sexism again, I will be happy!’: Ice hockey presenter Ushakova

Pilyaeva, meanwhile, reiterated her message on her Instagram account, writing emphatically: “I repeat: I’m not a Feminist – I’m a FIGHTER.”