The Gabby Douglas Hair Debate


Chelsea Gardner | Managing Editor


I Am Not My Hair, when India Arie released this breakthrough song, many African American women saw it as affirmation that they were so much more than their outward appearances. It was a revelation for many African American women, providing closure to the hair stigma. For me, this song emanates pride, and I find it pertinent to the Gabby Douglas hair debate. It is my duty to address the comments, verbal and/or tweeted, made by many people in response to Gabby Douglas and her hair. I, like many never thought that this hair debacle would blow up the way it did. Nevertheless, Twitter, being the powerful social network that it is, instantly gave the subject life.

Gabby Douglas is an inspiring young woman. At sixteen years old, she has conquered feats that we could never even imagine of conquering. She has made history as the first African American female to win the all-around Olympic gold in Gymnastics. She proudly represented America with her humility and grace. There is no doubt, that Gabby Douglas is amazing. So, before you even decide to point fingers as to why her hair is this way or that way, look beyond that and acknowledge what she did.
Surely you must know that it is unreasonable to expect a gymnast to have perfect hair when she is constantly flipping and sweating. It was clear that every gymnast participating in this year’s Olympic games had to wear their hair pulled back completely out of their face. In order to maintain professionalism, Gabby had to use gel, clips, and a hair tie. This is a customary practice for her, in preparation for events and competitions.

So, I have to ask, what is the real issue here? Gabby Douglas does not have to fit into anyone else’s standards and yet many people made her feel that way. I was astounded when I read the comments. The situation only worsened when I saw it as a hot topic in Yahoo News; my heart literally sank! Instead of her being in the number one news spot for her achievements, people were more concerned with critiquing her hair Douglas’ biggest critics were mostly African American female twitter users.

How could this frivolous topic go hand-in-hand when discussing her successes and accomplishments? She was conquering milestones, making huge leaps for America, and inspiring people around the world. I was ashamed that people would even have the audacity to comment on something as juvenile as what her hair looks like or what she is doing with her hair. Hiding behind technology has truly desensitized people.

As disappointed as I was with the Twitter community, I realize that people are always going to have something negative to say, as there is no pleasing everyone. However, instead of constantly dwelling on ignorance and nonsense, you should be uplifting the good and giving credit where credit is due.

At the end of the day, while Gabby is living the sweet life with her $90 million endorsement deal, it is only necessary for the critics to know that Golden Gabby Douglas, is, without a doubt, not her hair.