Friday, July 6, 2012

Yay, Sarah Robles!

From Sarah Robles' Indiegogo Campaign Page
Olympics season is upon us! I'm going to be honest, I'm a bit of nerd about the games. I think one thing that particularly appeals to me is that it's one of the rare times where we hear about women athletes almost as much as male. Speaking of which--I'd like to talk a little bit about Sarah Robles. Have you heard of her? She's an Olympic weightlifter and all around remarkable young woman. 

I first heard about her last week because of her financial situation. As reported at Feministing:
The twenty-three-year-old is the highest ranked weightlifter in the country, beat out every female and male American at the world championships last year, and can lift more than 568 pounds–which is apparently equivalent to one large adult male lion. And yet Robles scraps by on $400 a month from U.S.A. Weightlifting and donations from friends because she doesn’t the kind of body that secures lucrative endorsement deals.
Think about it. Athletes in other sports, particularly women, who have slimmer physiques are considered more attractive by out societal standards and receive much more attention (such as swimmers, gymnasts, beach volleyball, and tennis players to name a few.) I mean, think for a moment about what type of body we call "athletic"--it's a label we wrongly extend to only slim, toned, and minimal muscled women. And because a woman's worth is so often reduced to how much Joe Six Pack wants to bang her, these particular athletes rise to the top of our national consciousness. This translates into endorsement deals and sponsorships; these deals, if you are an Olympic athlete, are your bread and butter. 

Consider for a moment what Roble's income of $400 a month means.

And now, contrast that to Maria Sharapova. In 2008, the tennis player and general hottie was the highest paid female athlete making $22 million and again in 2011 with $24 million. And then there's Danica Patrick, Indy/NASCAR driver know for her side gigs of modeling and using her sexuality for endorsements, who made $12 million. And I think it's so worth noting here that women, overall, barely rank amongst the top paid athletes at all (but when they do they are almost always conventionally attractive.)

Ok, I understand that weightlifting as a sport doesn't have the following that other more mainstream sports have, and that accounts for pay. If tennis is bringing in a ton of money because there are tons of people in the stands or tuning in on television, there will certainly be higher paid tennis players than weightlifters. But could the relative popularity of tennis (etc.) over weightlifting be a byproduct of the fact that the public ain't so fond of looking at the kind of bodies it takes to be a world class weightlifter? I'm not the only one who suspects this might be the case. Roble herself is quite aware of this concept. As she said, "You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy." And "If a company wants to advertise their brand, there’s no benefit in sponsoring you if you’re not getting any exposure." Robles is even a Health At Every Size adovcate in the making over at her blog "Pretty Strong.

She knows what is going on is bogus and so she took to Indiegogo and started a campaign. Robles' request was simple. She needed a $2,500. As the page says, 
All contributions will go directly to Sarah Robles and Coach Joe Micela. The funds raised will be used to help cover the cost of Sarah's last month of training before the London Olympics. Funds will also be used to help cover the cost of sending her coach, Joe Micela, to London so he can be by her side as she competes for Gold.
A pretty noble effort, if you ask me! So I contributed, and you should too.

And this is where I could end it; an appeal to help her. But instead I'm happy to say that Roble's goal has already been met! In fact, as of me posting this, Robles has made over $11,000. It's still peanuts compared to what other Olympic athletes are pulling in (like Michael Phelps who makes approximately $24,000 a DAY) so please continue to give and support this young woman. 

I love it when we come together and work on a beautiful cause like this. Good luck, Sarah!

1 comment:

  1. We at Solve Media are thrilled to be sponsoring Sarah!


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