Gabby Douglas is an accomplished, young African American woman who is an Olympic champion, but her history-making performance in gymnastics was momentarily eclipsed by something as trivial as her hair.
Holy hot combs, Batman!
This young gazelle was out there running, jumping, tumbling and delivering Circus du Soleil-inspired performances while millions watch in amazement, yet some – including a significant number of African American women – chose to demonize her because of the condition or state of her hair?
Let’s see how well your “hairdo” holds up under those types of conditions.
We have not seen folks turn on a black woman on Twitter this bad since folks dogged Tami Roman from “Basketball Wives,” and she deserved it with all her ratchet behavior.
One person on Twitter wrote: “Why hasn’t anyone tried to fix Gabby Douglas’ hair?”
Another opined: “gabby douglas gotta do something with this hair! these clips and this brown gel residue aint it?”
If critics stopped for a moment to considered her back story, how Gabby had to leave her family to train at a very early age and lived with a white family in Iowa, maybe they would cut her some slack.
I went to school in Iowa. Not only are you hard pressed to find someone there who remotely knows anything about black hair, but I don’t think they even had one shelf of black hair products in the entire state.
Gabby had her own response to all the controversy: "I don't know where this is coming from. What's wrong with my hair? I just simply gelled it back, put some clips in it and put it in a bun. Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you're focusing on my hair? I just want to say; we're all beautiful inside out.”
Gabby, this is coming from an historical and prevalent undermining of black women and their beauty and worth. On the surface we may say we are all beautiful inside and out, but how much of the negative hype have African-American women themselves internalized?
Some would argue that a woman’s hair is her crown and glory, and I am not here to debate whether you want to rock the weave or go natural, but there seems to be a sort of collective consciousness of self-esteem issues if this much energy is given to this young lady’s hair.
It is like there was an unseen black female sports reporter during Gabby’s performance, giving secret commentary:
NBC Analyst 1: "She has shown such great poise during her overall performance."
NBC Analyst 2: "There was a slight hesitation in her initial approach to the balance beam but she pulled off an incredible routine."
Black Woman: "I have to say that her dismount earned her every bit of her overall score of 9.8, but truthfully I was too distracted by how busted her kitchen looked."
The sad thing is, this entire controversy speaks to a larger issue of some African American women’s obsession with hair. Chris Rock’s documentary pays homage to this ongoing fascination.
Gabby should be a role model for women committed to physical fitness, but we have women who would rather chance serious health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. They would risk loosing a foot because they don’t want to sweat their hair out.
Gabby, I say let your haters be your motivators. Diva, hold your brown-gelled head up high and introduce a new floor routine set to the music of India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” and laugh all the way to the bank with the millions you will earn in endorsements.
And possibly to placate some of your detractors, maybe one of those endorsements will be from a black hair care product….smile.