US Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, 16, won 2 gold medals at the 2012 Winter Olympics in London, but critics slammed her for her hair and its supposed failure to ‘represent’ the African American community. Her mom Natalie Hawkins told FASHIONISTA: ‘How ignorant is it of people to comment on her hair and she still has more competitions to go? Are you TRYING to ruin her self confidence?’
Douglas’ chemically-straightened hair, pulled into a ponytail with barrettes and gel, matches the coifs of her four Caucasian ‘Fab Five’ teammates Aly Raisman, Mckayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber. Since gymnastics involves flying through the air, strands are bound to fall out of place. The 4-foot-11 teen is an African American rocking straightened not natural hair that is why she is being slammed.
‘It’s really been African American women that have come out and attacked her. They don’t know about gymnastics. She has to keep her hair in a ponytail 28 to 30 hours a week. We grew her hair out because she preferred long hair. I’m not going to make her cut her hair just to please someone else.’
The critics wanted to see Douglas with unprocessed hair in the form of braids, an afro or kinky curls. Douglas and her mom are approaching the controversy with a sense of humor: ‘She said, ‘Really?! I won two gold medals and made history and my hair is trending?’ So we laughed about it.. [Gabby] lives with a white host family.. and there’s no black salons in their area [Iowa, not one. We had to work really hard to find a stylist to come and do her hair.’