Bike store paints topless women with body paint, sparks outrage

An image posted on Twitter by Total Rush.

An image posted on Twitter by Total Rush.

A high-profile, Melbourne-based cycling store, Total Rush, has sparked outrage, after including scantily-clad women at an in-store event on Thursday night. 

Young, topless women were painted with bright pink body paint and dressed in knickers and high heels at the event held at the brand’s Richmond store. 

The incident came to light after Total Rush posted a photograph of men in suits posing with the women in their pink cycling “clothes” on its Twitter account, saying: “A huge thanks to everyone who came to our 'Renovation Gala' tonight! We hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did J.” 

Social media users have taken to Twitter and Facebook to vent their anger, and the cycling company has since removed the offending post, and is deleting negative comments from its Facebook page. 

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Melbourne writer and comedian Catherine Deveny has blasted the brand online, saying the decision was a “sexist disgrace.” 

"So many of us slave our guts out to encourage more women and girls to ride then @TotalRush does this," she Tweeted. Deveny then encouraged supporters to give the store feedback on their Facebook page.

Others soon joined Deveny, condemning Total Rush's decision:

Cycling Tips spoke with Total Rush founder Simon Coffin to get his perspective on the incident.

“We certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody,” Coffin said. “We got the idea from a Mercedes-Benz AMG promo launch ... probably 30% of the people there were women ... [and] nobody seemed to be offended."

But Cycling Tips reports it was told by an anonymous source who attended the event that "most people were uncomfortable" with the decision to invite topless models along.