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Today in things that make us scream incoherently

Dear World: Please Stop Caring What Gabby Douglas’ Hair Looks Like

You see the girl in the photo above? That graceful, beautiful, powerhouse gymnast? That’s Gabby Douglas; she won a gold medal last night at the London Olympics. But while watching her amazing performance last night, there are a lot of people out there who weren’t focused on her form or her discipline or her undeniable talent–they were focused on her hair.


There’s no doubt that hair is a hot-button issue within the black community. But let me speak from experience here: If you are a woman of color with relaxed hair, you are still going to sweat like everyone else when you work out. This is fairly obvious. And with that sweat, your hair is not going to remain perfectly coifed. This is true if you’re just running on a treadmill or doing jumping jacks in your living room; I imagine it’s true tenfold if you are going through the regular, intense workouts it takes to get you to an Olympic gold medal.

Luckily, with the hair-haters come to hair-defenders, and Dodai Stewart of Jezebel phrased it beautifully:

For an athlete, the best hairstyle is the kind that lets you accomplish your goals. Even if she never won anything, her life is about her strength, flexibility and tumbling ability — not to mention dedication and focus. What’s in her head, not what grows out of it. But since Gabby Douglas’s hair did not stand in the way of a gold medal, it should be a non-issue.

As Monisha Randolph of Sporty Afros pointed out, “this is not America’s Next Top Model we’re watching.” Gabby Douglas was also the only woman on the American gymnastics team to compete on all four apparatuses.

Here’s the thing, though: We are never, ever going to achieve equality of the sexes if we keep our focus where it is. If we keep focusing on a woman’s pantsuits or her hair as opposed to her politics or her gymnastics, we will not get very far.

This is all made all the more frustrating by the fact that her hair looks perfectly fine. But that is irrelevant, because just look at what she can do:

And just look at her with that gold medal:

(via Jezebel)

(Photo via The Grio)


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  • { chaka; }

    I really wish we black women could stop determining each other’s worth based on hair. HAIR.

  • Kristin Cowles

    That last picture of her makes me happy because she looks so genuinely happy and satisfied.  As the mother of an 11 year old girl, that is the look I want to see on my daughter’s face when she challenges herself.  I wish that is the kind of thing we looked for when looking at other women.

  • Anonymous

    How can anyone even look at her hair when she has such incredible legs?! They look like they’re carved out of marble, but marble never flew so high and so topsy-turvy. Wowza.

  • Anonymous

    How can they even see here hair when she is flying so fast and high? Gabby Douglas is AWESOME!

    Sour grapes. For shame, ladies. For shame.


  • Kate Renee Cochran

    What an incredible athlete. Amazing girl! Congrats, Gabby!

  • Anonymous

    She’s an athlete why should her hair be a concern at all? You want your hair secure and out of your face, especially when you’re trying to spot. Every other sport is the same. The only time I can recall seeing Olympic athletes putting obvious care into their hair for an event is the trot-up for eventing.

    Her floor routine makes me smile. Yes, she’s an incredible athlete but she’s still a teenager and that routine was *fun*!

  • R.O.U.S.

    Seeing as how EVERYONE’S hair looks horrid in the gymnastics style of 90s scrunchies and way-too-many-barrettes, I don’t see how hers merits any particular venom. Peace and love, people. (and gold medals)

  • John Wao

    So she represents her country and wins a Gold medal and her they focus on her hair?

    SIGH. Face in palm.

    If I had to use a word to describe Gabby and her teammates A.K.A.Earth’s Mightiest Gymnasts it would be: Awesome.

  • Julie Biggerbear

    I watched the reel of her performances twice.

    Once to see her perform, which she did very well at in all but her balance beam, which was a little wobbly but she stayed on the beam, which in and of itself is a big deal!
    The second viewing was to look at her hair, and I have to ask, what?  What’s the big deal? Her hair was at No Point out of place, no crazy flyaways or stick out clumps or weird scragglies.  Even with all the work, all the flying through the air and twists and turns and flips, it stayed in place very well!  
    I saw a happy, proud young woman among other happy, proud young women, doing what she dreamed, and doing it well.
    Well enough for GOLD!  Go U.S.A.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    That girl is poetry in motion on the uneven bars. Who has the time to look at her hair?

  • Sarah Wynde

    I don’t follow the Olympics (I’m not capable of changing the channels on my television — the technology is beyond me) or gymnastics, but wow, that was fun to see. I watched the whole thing mostly because I was sort of bemused by the idea that we have an African-American gold medal winner. Like I said, I’m out of the loop, but I apparently missed the day when gymnastics became an integrated sport. And the day when we started to take that for granted. I’m delighted to discover that both have arrived. But even so, it’s astounding that people are talking about her hair instead of how amazing she is, because she’s so amazing!  And yeah, how anyone could have been looking at her hair instead of the muscles in her legs is totally beyond me — it is incredible to see a teenage girl with that kind of strength.

  • Signe

    I haven’t been watching the Olympics but I always enjoy the floor routines so I watched this.  I actually watched the end of the floor routine a couple times because I was convinced it was CGI because she achieved so much elevation. Really amazing.

    I did a Google image search for “Gabby Douglas hair” and in every one her hair looked pretty normal…am I missing something?

  • Delphi Psmith

    Here’s the thing, though: We are never, ever going to achieve equality
    of the sexes if we keep our focus where it is. If we keep focusing on a woman’s pantsuits or her hair as opposed to her politics or her gymnastics, we will not get very far.

  • Jeremy Sadler

    Hair? What hair? All I saw was an athletic powerhouse.

  • Anonymous

    A bunch of crabs!!!!!!!  She did a beautiful job representing the USA!!!!!  It doesn’t matter what her hair looks like, what matters is she got the GOLD!!!!!  Very proud of Gabby!!!!

  • Ganieda

    Watching her in that video just makes ear-splittingly happy. Humans are so COOL sometimes. 

  • Jamie Jeans

    Dear Idiots,

    Leave her alone! What the hell people…? I’m Canadian and I’ve got little to no interest in the Olympics beyond us beating the Americans at hockey, but this young lady trained her heart out and brought home the Gold for America. She oughta be celebrated, and not frowned upon because her hair doesn’t match YOUR idea of beauty.

    You don’t deserve her representing you.

    God damned morons.

  • Melissa Toler Short

    I forgot all about her hair the minute she started moving. Incredible!

  • Anonymous

    Clearly all women are good for is looking pretty, who cares about other achievements. FFS I thought we were getting over that kind bullshit. It’s 2012 for crying out loud.

  • Scott Hill

    I’m just gonna leave this right here:

  • Calista Johnson

    This just makes me so sad.  Gabby is an amazing athlete and we should all be proud of her and these women discuss her hair.  They should put down their flat irons, get off their butts and do something to inspire future generations instead of knocking an inspiring you woman.  These ladies are just crabs in a bucket.  

  • Erika Peterman

    It is unbelievable to me that this was even an issue for some people. As a black woman, I am sick to death of the obsession with our hair, whether it’s natural, relaxed, weaved, etc. The only thing that matters here is that Gabby Douglas is an amazing athlete who has represented her sport and her country with grace.

  • Kal

    What’s wrong with her hair? It looks like any other 16 year old’s hair.

  • Giu Alonso

    Full of awesome. :)

  • Beverly Cumberlander

    gabby is a beautiful athlete, she has been training and has become a gold metal gymnast. who the hell cares what her hair looks like. the people who have something to say other than congratulations to or about this CHILD need to go and try to accomplish something in thier own lives. CHILDREN need our encouragement not criticism especially when they have achieved something great like this. What Have You Done Lately ?

  • Ashe

    People are jackasses.

    Gabby Douglas is just incredible. Her grace and enthusiasm really inspires me-I can’t wait to see where she goes in life. 

  • Tati Mesfin

    +1 I am SICK of all this hair obsession in our community. Instead of praising her talents and achievements, we criticize her hair??? Really?? So counterproductive… 

  • Fran Pusateri Point

    What’s with all the hair flack? Gabby Douglas is not only an amazing athlete and a great role model, but she is adorable, hair and all. I didn’t really see much difference between her hair and her teammates throughout the computation. All were pulled back tightly and held in place with hair clips. Don’t listen to all the “negative nellies” Gabby!

  • Angel S.

     HEY!  I still use scrunchies!  If they are still available for sale at Wal-mart, then they are NOT out of style!

  • Jeff Bigler

    There are rules for how gymnasts in women’s gymnastics wear their hair.  It needs to be tied back, and none of it is allowed to be in their face.  If you were to go to a gymnastics meet at any level–even if it was a bunch of seven-year-olds, they would all have their hair slicked back and hair sprayed, pretty much exactly like Gabby’s.

    Now that we’ve established that she has gymnast hair, perhaps we can recognize that she also has the heart, brain, spirit, and drive to go with it.  As of today, she’s the best female gymnast in the world.  Not just the best African-American gymnast.  Not just the best American gymnast.  The best.  Period.  So let’s appreciate her for that, and for all the hard work it took her to get there.

  • Julie

    When I saw the articles…I didn’t understand. And I couldn’t figure out what on earth the criticism is for her hair. It looks absolutely fine, there is nothing wrong with it! I seriously find it appaling that this young girl is being attacked and criticized for her hair! Look at her skills, she’s amazing! She won gold!

    I cannot believe that in this year, this would happen. It makes me very sad to think that that is what ‘counts’ in our world, just looking pretty but lacking any other skill or intelligence is fine….What a shallow way of thinking.

    [Insert futurama meme "I don't want to live on this planet anymore"]

    Luckily, not everyone is like that! There are plenty of folks who will appreciate this girl for her capabilities rather than what her hair looks like.

    This reminds me of when I was in high school and was criticised for wearing a black hair ‘clip’ instead of a hair elastic for my ponytail. A ‘friend’ actually tried to pull it out of my hair and yelled at me ‘ Why are you wearing this?!’. I was being too ‘radical’ and ‘different’…..le sigh.

  • Anonymous

    Guess being obese, having diabetes, high blood pressure and other heAlth problems is much better as long as you don’t sweat your style out? 

  • Tesha Westbrook

    its mighty ironic that those women comitting on her hair from the profile pics they  never do any kind of athletic activities let alone World Class go  Gabby let the haters hate

  • aprilc

    Hair– Is that all that I am.  We are so much more and we need to tell our children that hair does not define you…. We are better than that.. How will we ever have a woman in charge of the free world if we are still in 2012 focus on hair.

  • Francesca M

    That just makes me sad. Because she is gorgeous. And watching her compete was a pleasure.

  • Anonymous

    Gabby Douglas, you go girl.  awesome job you’re doing at such a young age.  positive, strong, determined and beautiful.  Don’t let ignorant and hateful comments bother you.  Keep up the good work.  Now to your haters, why not turn around and kiss your own behinds with your tongues out.  Bothering a young star -  a child still to most of us.
    shame on you – all of you

  • Anonymous

    It is painful to me that folks are so shallow, to put it mildly,  as to fixate on Gabby Douglas’ hair.  Her hair is a non-issue, its fine.   She is an awesome attractive young black woman.  The fact that she brought it home for US is proof that her head is on straight.  She has it all in the right order. 

  • Anonymous

    She is a disgrace!

  • Sara Sakana

    Please do elaborate.

  • Sara Sakana

    Try harder, little troll.

  • Anonymous

    I know, right?  It’s normal hair!

  • Sophie

    How can anyone watch that and even notice her hair? This is the first time I’ve actually seen her in non-gif form and that was incredible! I completely forgot what the article was even talking about the moment I clicked play.