Female scuba divers showcase 'unflattering' diving suits in music video
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) - When a scuba diver from Bend posted on Facebook a video of her and her colleagues dancing in their diving suits to the song “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, she did not expect it to quickly get more than 2,000 shares and 176,000 views, and climbing.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with the diver, Shaylyn Rae Potter, by FaceTime on Sunday after she had recently returned from her latest expedition in Antarctica.
Potter was born in Bend and raised in Burns. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology and a minor in chemistry from Oregon State University.
Potter's passion for scuba diving began in 2008, while she was studying abroad at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
Now, she works as an undersea specialist with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, focusing on using undersea photography and videography to increase public interest in marine conservation.
In a FaceTime interview with NewsChannel 21 on Sunday, Potter described scuba diving as a male-dominated sport with a lot of misconceptions about how scuba divers should look.
That’s why Potter decided to post a video on Facebook with her female colleagues poking fun at what it’s really like to be a professional scuba diver, especially as a woman.
“The video wasn’t intentionally a message, but it’s a pretty snotty and mucous-y sport, and all divers know that,” Potter said. “You come out of the water and you look slobbery. We joke around about that.”
Potter said people have commented on her physical appearance, both when diving or presenting her work at a formal event.
“It’s not like I’ve heard it only once or twice -- I hear it every week,” Potter said. “Often, when I’m presenting, I have nice clothes, I have makeup on, and people will come up to me and say, 'You don’t look like a polar diver.' Well, what do polar divers look like? I mean, I am, that’s my profession.”
According to Potter, many times she and her colleagues have had to carry gear of up to 100 pounds, which makes it hard to walk.
Also, much of her work takes place in water that gets down to 28 degrees, below the freezing temperature of fresh water and the coldest water in the world. She said that’s often why people tell her she looks unflattering in her diving suit.
Potter said her male colleagues have noticed a difference in the way people treat her, compared to how they treat them. She shared a time when she and a male colleague presented their work after a trip to the Arctic.
“I had done all the underwater filming and video editing, and at the end of the trip, an older male came to shake my male colleague’s hand and said he was impressed,” Potter said. “And then, he patted me on the head and said ‘You’re really cute.’”
One of the other divers in the video is Emily Newton of La Pine, Potter noted. She said they met working on a ship in Antarctica and made the video together, "working together to carve our place in the male-dominated polar field."
Potter, who lives in Bend now, spends about six months a year working on the Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic ships worldwide, mainly in the Arctic and Antarctic.
She said the Facebook video was not intended to garner attention or send a message, but she hopes it will inspire young girls who are interested in pursuing careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, and that women can be both "fierce and cute."
To learn more about Potter's expeditions, visit her Facebook page, "Save Our Plankton."