Gabby Douglas is an American icon. The 16-year-old Olympian from Virginia Beach holds (at the time of this writing) two Olympic gold medals and is the first American gymnast ever to win both the team and individual all-around gold during the same Olympics. She is an incredible and inspiring athlete who has changed the way many people (myself included) view women’s gymnastics.
With all of these amazing achievements for someone so young, you’d think that’d be enough for people to talk about. So what’s all this fuss we’re hearing about her hair?
Apparently some folks on Twitter got all up in a tizzy and decided to pan little Gabby Douglas’s hairdo, poking fun at the clips in her hair, remarking that she was in desperate need of a stylist, and making other unnecessary, shallow, and childish remarks. This lit a fire under the burner of Jason Whitlock of FOX Sports, who penned an article late last Friday condemning the immature comments and issuing a call to African-American women to shed the unhealthy veneer of hair treatments that ultimately do nothing for their beauty and only serve to imprison their self-esteem and their health.
During an interview on FOX Sports, Whitlock and three time Olympian Dominique Dawes explained how many African-American women refuse to exercise because of the amount of time, money, and effort put into their hair. At 35 years old, Dawes, the Olympic gold medalist from Silver Spring, stated that it was a “liberating and empowering experience by finally going natural”.
Responding to criticism about her hair in an interview with Huffington Post, Gabby Douglas said “I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it.” That’s the right attitude, and one that will keep her career moving forward, regardless of the critics.
There’s an unfortunate problem growing in the United States, and it’s not just among black women. This disturbing obsession with unhealthy appearance standards has been an issue for decades. With the viral nature of the internet, however, these ideas have been able to spread much quicker in the recent years. Commercial tripe like weight loss pills, damaging hair products, and even child beauty pageants have created a toxic environment within which our children are expected to grow into well-adjusted adults.
Excuse me while I hold my breakfast back.
From airbrushed models, to distorted celebrity hips, to false claims about beauty and dietary products that rarely deliver on promises, we need a drastic change in approach to our own images. Are we going to allow companies to prey on people’s insecurities? Are we going to allow people to enable each other’s insecurities? Why allow false notions and destructive behavior to perpetuate?
If we’re going to have a war on drugs and a war on terror, why not a war on superficial B.S.?
I’ll tell you why: Because superficial B.S. makes money.