The Gabby Douglas Hair Debate: What's Wrong Dear Black Women?

The Gabby Douglas Hair Debate: What's Wrong Dear Black Women?

If you're an American, you should be proud. Olympics 2012 is in full swing and our athletes have been killing it. Especially Gabby Douglas. The 16-year-old gymnast earned not one, but two gold medals for her (insert the best adjective to describe her performance here). While most of the world is being blown away by this great athlete who is just barely old enough to drive, some are choosing to focus on more insignificant details such as her hair. Like everyone else in the world who wants thousands of people to see the dumb things they type, a few select individuals took to Twitter to express their disapproval of Douglas' ponytail.

Here's what some critics had to say about her hair:

Gabby Douglas is cute and all but that hair...on camera.

LMFAO Gabby Douglas shouldn't be the standout in those commercials until she get(s) her hair done.

Gabby Douglas needs to tame the beady beads in the back of her [head] lol

I couldn't believe what I was reading on when they broke the news! What was even more shocking to me than what appeared to be grown women tweeting about her hair, was the fact that they were African American. Not White. Not Hispanic. Not Other. BLACK. And black WOMEN at that. Gabby Douglas is the first African American to win an Olympic all-around title. Her second gold win solified the reign of American women taking the all-around title at the last three Olympics. But people want to talk about her hair?! What's wrong with this picture? Aside from the fact that her hair looks fine given the circumstances of her training more than twice daily and probably sweating like crazy, this is a completely stupid thing to focus on. I do not care if her hair looked like a combination of hot asphalt and dirty cotton. The young lady has already accomplished more than  most of the world population. Not to mention that African American women should understand more than any group of people why her hair wouldn't be all silky smooth. This is what I'd like to say to those women who tweeted their disapproval about this young girl's hair. Hopefully they're reading.

First of all, you are a black woman. You of all people should know the importance of lifting up our youth and providing a solid foundation for them to have positive self- esteem. Unless your proactively ensuring that our young girls feel positively wonderful about their God-given hair no matter what the texture or length, YOU ARE FAILING. It's enough that young girls are bombarded with negative images from advertisements, television and their peers. Try focusing on the task at hand (i.e. her winning two freaking gold medals and making history) and leave her hair up to her stylist.

Second of all do you realize that you're setting the tone for how other races will see us? I walk around with my hair looking a bit unkempt and times and guess what? White folks love it! Not to say that you shouldn't take pride in your appearance but honestly you black women are the only ones focusing on her hair. Everyone else thinks it's supposed to be that way. So stop self-sabotaging already and deal with your own insecurities instead of projected them on others.

Lastly, this is a young child. She's 16 years-old and whether you're aware or not, you are being a bully and a bad one at that. I can't fully blame you. You've been exposed to centuries of conditioning that tells black women that they're not good enough. Their hair is too nappy so you get a perm. It's not long enough so you pour hundreds of dollars into European and Indian hair weaves. I get it. Changing your mental is a tough habit to break. But this is not the answer. Even if you think the girl's hair is jacked up don't take to twitter. Words are powerful and we don't want anything distracting gabby from her A-game. We must free ourselves from this mental slavery that has consumed our people for so long. While I may not be tweeting about Gabby's jacked up hair, I do have my own inner demons that must be dealt with. Insecurity isn't something that goes away with the snap of a finger. But this is not the answer. So instead of tweeting about her hair, how about you congratulate her. After all, having millions watch you take the gold medal twice at 16 is pretty damn impressive don't you think?





Leave a comment
  • As the years go by I realize that the movie, Idiocracy, was very prophetic.

  • People are brainwashed. Clearly she's an athlete which means they sweat and perspire. duh?

  • In reply to Evan Moore:

    This really does seem like a "Duh" moment Evan. What's even sadder is that I believe the women who are criticizing her hair don't see that as a valid excuse. They place the way one's hair looks above anything that makes complete sense to the rest of the world.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Shantell Jamison:

    That is a cultural issue. Hair should not be that important. How much money is spent on keeping up someones hair that could instead be spent on their kids? Saw something in the news about a hair salon being robbed of its 'weave' materials - over $250K - WHAT!?!

    Time for priorities to change.

  • In reply to Harlon Katz:

    Harlon that is hilarious and sad at the same damn time!

  • fb_avatar

    OK Where do I start?
    First of all I would like to say shame on ALL of the IDIOTIC BLACK WOMEN who have an issue with Gabby’s hair! That’s the problem with some of our people today worrying about the wrong things, hair, nails, shoes, and bla bla bla.. What about EXELLENCE AND ACHIEVEMENT? It’s NOT Gabby’s responsibility to represent Black hair, Black women, or anything else. The ONLY thing this talented 16 – year old girl is responsible for is EXELLENCE! And she represents plenty of it!! She has set a standard of excellence and has set an example for our youth you idiots only wish you could and NEVER will!! She’s the BEST role model we ever had for Black teenage girls!! If we were to put as much emphasis on excellence rather than something as trivial as hair, we might be better off, and set better examples for our children! And oh yes, I’m a proud BLACK FATHER of two outstanding teenage girls 16 & 18 who both have high aspiration and will be attending medical school. The 16 year old has a 96.7 grade point average and finished #11 at the NY State 100 meter track finals in 2012. The 18 year old is about to embark upon her sophomore year of college. Do I say anything to them about their hair? HELL NO!!


  • In reply to Steve Lucas:


  • I love this amazing blog post. IT IS AMAZING! Right on! Makes me crazy to read and hear what people say. That little girl is a true champion who is overflowing with beauty from the inside. I bet she lets it all roll, at least I hope so. Thanks for this great post, Shantell.

Leave a comment