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Silvana Lima and Beauty Standards in Pro Sports

Written by Kelsey Duchesne

Silvana Lima may be the A-list athlete you’ve never heard of. Despite being a two-time Vice World Champion and eight-time Best Surfer in Brazil, Lima still works as a French Bulldog breeder to make ends meet. Lima believes that her lack of financial success in the industry is because she is not attractive enough to be sponsored by any major surfwear brands. Yes, a world champion athlete could not get a sponsorship because she doesn’t perfect a sensationalized sexy vibe for dudes while tearing through the ocean on a surfboard. For reals.

Lima, who has been surfing professionally for 13 years, only recently received sponsorship. “If you don’t look like a model you end up without a sponsor, which is what happened to me” she explains in a BBC video titled “The Surfer who wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Lima's tour became so costly that in 2014 she started a “Silvana Free” fund for fans to donate to her travel expenses. She explained her reasoning for the crowdfunding route in Surfing Life magazine, saying  “At first you could say it’s just another crowd funding project, but it’s bigger than that; it’s a small revolution. I guess when fashion became more important than surfing, things kind of lost it’s magic. I also see this initiative as a way to show the Brazilian government that all athletes deserve respect.”

It seems that Lima is starting to receive the deserved recognition and respect she’s patiently waited for, but the fact that it took her over a decade to get here is mind boggling. Lima is not only a pro-athlete, but she is an artist. Her body creates pure magic (she calls her style “radical”, I call it absolutely freakin’ mesmerizing) and cultural beauty standards keeping her from success is not only a disservice to her, but her current and future fans.

Now geared with an official sponsorship, Lima’s future is as bright as ever, and her fans are growing by the day. The pro-athlete who didn’t give in to traditional beauty standards made success happen without losing herself,  and there is nothing more beautiful than that.
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