An Open Letter on Behalf of Gabby Douglas

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The Olympics used to be a long-awaited event, where families and friends would gather around the TV to watch the world’s best athletes compete. I was always fascinated with women’s gymnasts, watching them gracefully tumble through the air, flip over bars, and land on their feet instead of their butt. And what impressed me more than the physicality of all of these athletes, was their poise and acceptance for mistakes. Fell off the beam? Get back on it. Slipped your grip on the bars? Give it another go. Stumbled on the floor exercise? Keep on going. I’m still astonished by the physical strength of these athletes, but even more impressed by their mental strength.

That being said…

To all of you who have criticized Gabby Douglas during these Olympic Games,

It disgust me how many of you are insulting Gabby Douglas. You comment on her hair, on her choice of stance during the playing of our national anthem, and her choice not to give her teammates a standing ovation during the all-around competition in Rio. You pick apart every small detail of her behavior, creating drama in every step she does or does not take. What gives you the right to bully 20-year old woman, representing her country in an incredibly difficult sport in front of the eyes of the whole world?

Gabby Douglas has guts. She has determination. She has drive. And she returned to these Olympics despite all of the people who didn’t believe she’d make it here. But this feat is still not good enough.

News Flash: this isn’t a beauty competition, it’s an athletic event. How Gabby wears her hair has no effect on her abilities to compete or represent our country in a positive light. I’ve seen more comments online about Gabby’s hair than about her amazing accomplishments and it’s disgusting. As a young woman, I know full well the pressures of trying to look good. Middle school and high school were years of bullying and criticizing (for no good reason), but if only it stopped there. The way Americans continue to react to Gabby Douglas is so sickening to me. Her hair looks fine and even if you dislike it you have no right to bash a young woman, or any person, about her looks. Do you get some sort of enjoyment out of tearing down other people? Are you so insecure about yourself that you need to knock down one of the best athletes in our country’s history? Or are you just so incredibly one-minded and selfish that you don’t care about anyone but yourself? Whatever it is, just stop. Stop judging Gabby Douglas for how she wears her hair.

You criticize her for not putting her hand over her heart during the Star Spangled Banner? This is not a sign of disrespect. She stood there, proud of her country and her team. She did not wear a hat or talk throughout the anthem (both things which are said to be very disrespectful). She did not curse, she did not twiddle her thumbs and wait for the music to stop. She did not disrespect America by standing quietly during the Star Spangled Banner and she did not earn your disrespect. You have no right to criticize her choice to stand silently facing the flag when you show nothing but disrespect for a young woman proudly representing our country on the world’s stage.

Gabby Douglas was the defending individual all-around gold medalist. In Rio she only completed in one individual event and was out-shined by her teammates, leaving her out of the individual all-around competition. This would be heartbreaking for anyone, but Gabby stood tall and congratulated Simone and Aly for their success. She graciously accepted her disappointment and continued to cheer on her teammates as they fought for the title she knew she had to give up. At no point would I ever describe Gabby as “crabby” and, quite frankly, I think it’s despicable that anyone would say that.

Gabby Douglas is a class-act. She is an Olympian, a repeat Gold Medalist, and a stellar role model. She shows that hard work can bring you to the Olympics. She shows that harder work can bring you back to the games. She knows about dedication, commitment, disappointment, and strength. You cannot sit there criticizing someone who has experienced and accomplished more in the last 8 years than you’ll probably accomplish in the next 20 years, if ever. You sit there on your couch, bashing a young and powerful woman via social media while she regularly ventures out of her comfort zone and places herself in the worldwide spotlight.

Get off your ass and stop being one.

With Love,

#LOVE4GABBYUSA

 

 

 

 

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