Gabby Douglas' Hairdo Isn't What Got Her to the Olympics

Gabrielle DouglasIn addition to there being a time to be born and a time to die, a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to make peace and a time to war, there’s also a time to be a fabulous glamazon and a time to forget the prissy details and get the darn job done. So I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why anyone would criticize an Olympian’s hair, much less the hair of a 16-year-old Olympian. But poor Gabby Douglas has somehow stumbled into the crosshairs of some unbridled broads who have taken to Twitter to critique the poor girl’s seemingly uneventful bun. 


Honestly, I didn’t even know there even was a controversy about the child’s updo until my editor brought it to my attention. If I didn’t notice anything was amiss—and I’ve been following Gabby and her teammates since the trials—then it surely can’t be that bad because even if I never publicly acknowledge something that’s pure hotnessness, I will still do a silent headshake at it in the privacy of my own thoughts. But I haven’t. I mean, the girl is an athlete, and a kick-ass one at that. A ponytail strapped down with clips and maybe some brown gel seems just about right for someone who sweats through what is, for me, unfathomable amounts of leaping and running and jumping and twisting and twirling and flipping and falling. 

So I don’t know what kind of cascading falls of flawnessness said critics expect her to maintain while she’s sweating her way through floor exercise and uneven bars, but in the true spirit of a heckler’s signature nothing-better-to-do commentary, the focus hasn’t been squarely on the gold she earned, but the way her weave is styled. And this backlash has come largely from black women who should just be glad we have some representation on the gymnastics team to begin with. I mean, Dominique Dawes had to retire sometime and there haven’t been many little brown girls in major competition since. Perspective, people. 

Sisters take our tresses really seriously. We’ll sleep in awkward positions to avoid laying on them, we’ll spend obscene amounts of time and money grooming them, we’ll check and recheck the weather to plan accordingly lest—dear sweet baby Jesus—there be a downpour of unexpected rain that threatens the perfection that is a fresh hairdo. So with that kind of ride or die allegiance propelling their equally fiery superficiality, the outbreak of snarkiness has diminished the power of Gabs' achievement. She’s in London to win gold and she has. Twice. But critics are suggesting she needs to get a perm, ditch the ponytail, or make it her business to get a better weave.

Yet I see grown women walking around every day who, from the forehead up, are fabulous but alas, from the neck down look like they ain’t lifted their rumps to do so much as a squat or a knee bend since the Clinton administration. If you can’t tumble, if you can’t do a split, hell, if you can’t run from the bathroom back to the TV during a commercial break without getting winded, you need to zip it. Besides, Gabby can wear a leotard in public without sucking anything in or wondering what’s flapping out behind, so three cheers for her!

Besides, I don't know what your hair looked like when you were 16, but I think I was deep into my Poetic Justice braid phase. But instead of getting them redone regularly like a normal person, I straightened just the new growth and kept it moving. The fact that my follicles even agree to push out any strands after that foolishness is a living testimony. So Gabby is doing fine, as far as I’m concerned. And at least she’ll have two gold medals to go along with her hair memories, if she can even recall something so insignificant.

What kind of hair disasters did you have when you were a teenager?

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