What a gal, this 16-year-old Gabby Douglas. She won two Olympic gold medals in gymnastics and so many of our hearts this summer – all while unwittingly adding a new dimension to the widespread and sometimes divisive conversations about natural and relaxed textured hair.
What started with snide comments on Twitter about the way Gabby styled her hair during competition caused Team Natural and Team Relaxed to unite in her defense. How great was that to see?If you don’t know already, Gabby apparently has her hair chemically relaxed to make it easier to slick back tight, so it won’t cause distraction to her while training and competing. However, her choice to relax didn’t deter Team Natural from shooting down any critics of Golden Gabby. Of course not. Who wouldn’t defend her? The beauty of relaxed versus natural is that there’s a choice. Some women and girls “join” one team, some “join” the other. And some change from one camp to the other. It’s hair.
So there she was in London, adhering to the local Keep Calm and Carry On motto, and she responded with spunk and grace to the criticisms spewed her way. She pulled back her hair, won some Olympic bling, and is now headed home to Virginia Beach with her mother.
My thoughts? Gabby’s hair is just fine. Period.
Why would anyone make a public and negative comment about a girl’s hair if that very girl in question was doing anything other than participating in a hair competition?
I’m not saying that Gabby earned her right to wear her hair because she was earning her way to Olympic history. I’m saying Gabby should wear her hair how she wants, because she’s a living, breathing human being. She happens to be a very cute and accomplished human being with a lot more than hair on her mind, but that’s beside the point.
I hope that when Gabby starts her 40-city “Tour of Champions” series around America that her hair is never once mentioned in the press or at the events. That her flips on the mat and in the air are the focus, not hair gel and barrettes.
I can’t wait until she and her teammates come to Atlanta. I’ll be there yelling, “Here, here,” not “Hair, hair” to Miss Gabby the Olympian.