CAUSING A STIR: Evans Head surfer and model Kirrah Cooke, 17, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about her being photographed in a bikini. INSET: the banner that caused all the trouble.
CAUSING A STIR: Evans Head surfer and model Kirrah Cooke, 17, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about her being photographed in a bikini. INSET: the banner that caused all the trouble. Jamie Brown

Uproar over bikini poster

A COUNCIL decision to remove an 'inappropriate' photograph promoting the Richmond Valley has created a community backlash in favour of the 'beachy', bikini-themed graphic.

Within days of the Richmond Valley Council erecting promotional banners in Evans Head's Oak Street, some of them depicting local teenage surfer Kirrah Cooke were pulled down in response to a complaint that they did not represent the interests of the coastal community.

The woman, who wrote to the council expressing her concerns said she had nothing against the image of Kirrah, but felt that a more inclusive, family oriented photo would better suit the marketing strategy.

In response, a petition organised by a local milk bar has already raised more than 120 signatures calling for the banner's return.

Richmond Valley Council pulls down tourism banner which feature photos of a local girl going surfing in a bikini.
Richmond Valley Council pulls down tourism banner which feature photos of a local girl going surfing in a bikini. Craig Soward

"That girl is everything a mother would be proud to call her daughter," said Muzza's Milk Bar proprietor Petria Powell.

"We are proud of what she represents for this town."

Ms Powell said she normally didn't get involved in community politics.

"But I felt this was wrong."

Petition signer Kira Hartland said she had nothing but praise for the young model, and knew her capabilities well, having guided the surfer through her Bronze Medallion with the Evans Head -Casino Surf Life Saving Club.

"Kirrah Cooke is a lifesaver and a bloody good one," Ms Hartland said.

"And she comes from a morally strong family. The photo of her in that banner represented the symbol of the future in Evans Head."

Meanwhile, the model at the centre of the small furore said she simply felt embarrassed by the whole episode.

"I didn't feel at all discriminated by the photo," said the NSW Longboard under 18s champion.

In fact, the only disappointment Kirrah Cooke feels for the town of Evans Head is that there are so few female surfers sharing waves at the beach.



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