The Best Surfer In Brazil Can’t Get Sponsored Because She Isn’t ‘Pretty Enough’

by Courtney Bissonette


Talent is not the only thing you need to succeed as a woman in the sports world. The conventional beauty of an athlete is valued above pretty much any other trait—exemplified by the careers of Williams vs Sharapova. Brazilian surfer, Silvana Lima  found the hard way that allure outperforms aptitude and being the top ranked surfer in Brazil for eight years and the second internationally ranked surfer for two years does guarantee sponsorship if you’re not a model. 

A video from BBC called “The Surfer Who Wouldn’t Take No for An Answer,” follows Silvana documenting her life, how she supports herself without sponsors, and the discriminations she faces not being deemed “pretty enough” in the sports world.    

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According to Silvana “The surfwear brands, when it comes to women, they want both models and surfers. So if you don’t look like a model you end up without a sponsor, which is what happened to me. You’re excluded, you’re disposable. Men don’t have these problems. I started asking for sponsorship and go many no’s.”

Silvana grew up in a shack on the beach, her first surfboard was made out of a plank of wood that she cut a hole into for a fin. At 31, in order to support herself and fund her trips to Nationals, Silvana breeds french bulldogs and credits her placement to the puppies who paid her way. In 2014, a campaign to raise funds for her surf competitions called #FreeSilvana was also started by Vice World Champion. 

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For comparison, the highest paid surfer in the world is ranked number 52 in competition and receives 1.8 million in various sponsorships before contests and bonuses. These are the seven highest-paid surfers in the world according to



“I don’t look like a model. I’m not a babe,” (We at BUST disagree) she continued, “I’m a surfer, a professional one…. I could get breast implants, dye my hair, wear contacts to make my eyes blue, but it would be so weird, nobody would recognize me. It wouldn’t be me. “


 Image via Facebook

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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