The Olympics have been incredible, but they’ve also been an incredible moment for the black women.
The Black Girl Magic has been on and poppin, and absolutely undeniable. From Simone Biles owning gymnastics with four gold medals and a bronze, not to mention coining a signature move in the process (“The Biles”), to Simone Manuel shattering stereotypes in the pool becoming the first black woman to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event, to Allyson Felix becoming the most decorated U.S. woman in Olympic track and field history.
But somehow one of the most fascinating headlines, at least to me, has had nothing to do with winning. Gabby Douglas, the darling of the 2012 Olympics in London, has garnered a great deal of attention on social media and in response plenty of different writers condemning the ugly scrutiny she’s faced for her hair and body language.
I get it. Personally as a woman with short natural rarely perfectly quaffed hair, the conversation of hair hardly registers with me. Besides we’re talking about world class athletes, who are uh, how do I say this, competing, they’ve got far greater things to worry about. The national anthem and her hand not being over her heart, really?
The pledge is supposed to get a hand, people. If she wanted to be unpatriotic she would’ve turned her back. Chill out. But Twitter is gonna Twitter.
Gabby has said how this Olympic experience has been challenging, in large part due to the scrutiny. Of all of her supposed “shortcomings” the only one that I was actually sort of saddened by was not cheering for her teammates as jubilantly as Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernadez, but she was cheering. It just would’ve been a better visual if she was standing and applauding, but I wouldn’t necessarily be at my best if a camera randomly cut to me through the course of my day.
Before you run to condemn her and call her salty consider this. While the final five has been an incredible team, gymnastics isn’t really a team sport. I and so many other current and former athletes have been coached on our demeanor on the sideline because we played team sports, in which how you look on the bench and come off the bench is noted.
If you guys won’t, I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes you have to fake the funk just a little on the bench, and that was just for coaches not for cameras. Swallow the fact that you think you should be out there, and put on for the team. Gabby has said she was thrilled for her teammates and I believe her. The importance of overselling for the camera is a tough lesson to learn with the world watching.
Oh and I’m sure you’re over the moon for the person that beat you out for that promotion, because you’re on the same team too right?
The Olympics is the world’s biggest athletic stage, and hey guess what, Gabby Douglas, just like the other athletes, as incredible as they are at their craft, they’re humans. And while you sit and use your 140 characters however you please, she’s racking up medals.