MEET SARAH ROBLES, AMERICA’S STRONGEST WOMAN AND BODY IMAGE ACTIVIST
by Kellie Foxx-Gonzalez
July 3rd, 2012
Sarah Robles isn’t your average athlete — for starters, on a good day she can lift 568 pounds, the equivalent of an adult male lion. At 23-years-old, she’s the highest ranked weightlifter in the United States, and is probably the country’s best shot at winning an Olympic weightlifting medal at the upcoming London Olympics. Unfortunately, she’s also impoverished – receiving only $400/month from U.S.A Weightlifting, she struggles to pay for food, often relying upon the kindness of her community to fuel her 4,000 calorie lifting diet. The cause of her struggle? Robles, who is 5 feet, 10.5 inches tall and 275 pounds, doesn’t qualify as conventionally attractive enough to net sponsorships and endorsement deals.
Endorsements are largely how Olympians bring in cash for their sport — take star-swimmer Michael Phelps, for example, who signed a $1 million deal to be a spokesman for Mazda in China. Companies can also compensate athletes with free goods, such as nutritional products and supplements. Robles’ only product sponsorship thus far is with PowerBar. She told BuzzFeed: “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,” she says.
Robles’ body composition had always caused her emotional hardship. From a young age she was incredibly self-conscious about her body type, and her fears about herself would only be slightly allayed when she started sports and realized that her large frame would prove to be an advantage. “I still have bad thoughts about myself, but I’ve learned that you have to love yourself the way you are,” Robles says. “I may look like this, but I’m in the Olympics because of the way I am.”
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Published July 2012