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 jezebel.com 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?

 

 

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