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People Upset About the Appearance of Olympic Athletes, Set Straight by the Athletes Themselves
by Alanna Bennett | 11:45 am, August 7th, 2012
Last week we posted about our rage over the utterly ridiculous (and unfounded) complaints circulating the web over Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas‘ hair. As we wrote it we were kind of secretly hoping that we were blowing it out of proportion, that it was a small enough story that it would never get back to Douglas herself. No such luck. Douglas has most certainly heard about the unflattering attention her hair has been getting by some–she is, after all, a teenager of note, and has thus googled herself–and she’s responded in kind. Click through the jump to see what she has to say, along with some other Olympic athletes who have been receiving some less-than-flattering attention based on their appearance.
Lucky for every sane person out there following this story, Gabby Douglas is a class act, and one with a pretty good head on her shoulders considering how young she is. Her main reaction to all this hoopla over something as irrelevant and silly seems to involve a lot of confusion and derision. She likes how she looks perfectly fine, thank you very much, as well she should. There’s also the fact that the state of her hair is completely irrelevant to the utterly astonishing things she just did:
“I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair? I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair…”
“Nothing is going to change,” she said. “I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it.”
“I don’t think people should be worried about that,” she said. “We’re all champions and we’re all winners. I just say that it’s kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair.”
We already ranted to the people doing the complaining in our last post, and Gabby herself said the rest pretty well, so we’ll move on to our next great Olympian: American weightlifter Holley Mangold, who has been called out by critics for being fat. At 346 pounds, Mangold is certainly the heaviest woman in the Olympics, but so what? She’s proud of it, so why should you care?
She spoke out on the matter:
“Between my team mate (Sarah Robles) and I, I think we both showed you can be athletic at any size…I’m not saying everyone is an athlete but I am saying an athlete can come in any size.”
In the flurry of Olympic hype, it is inevitable–and great–that a lot of national and international attention is falling on these athletes. It is also inevitable, given the athletic nature of the events, that attention would fall on their bodies. Where this gets twisted, though, is when we as a public confuse the physical appearance of those bodies with what those bodies can do. These women are obviously extremely talented; they had to be to get this far. What should matter is that these athletes compete these events to the best of their abilities, not that they meet our world’s messed up beauty standards while they do it.