As I watched Gabby Douglas win the Gold for the All Around competition in Gymnastics, I reveled in her youth, beauty, strength and talent. All in a sweet 16 year old package. I enjoyed all of the pomp and ceremony in seeing our team win two medals.
So I was shocked indeed to hear that Gabby’s hair had become a source of contention and that there was a bit of smack talk going on. Apparently someone didn’t think Gabby’s perm was fresh enough and she wasn’t “representing” black America well in her presentation. Enter herd mentality here: each time some black person works their butt off to accomplish some glorious feat, those of lesser accomplishment, nay sometimes NO accomplishment step forward to offer their opinions! Opinions of ill repute, yet they still feel confident in presenting them for our consumption.
So her hair wasn’t up to snuff for who? Millions of Americans of every ethnicity saw it and thought it looked great. How much better can it look when she’s sweating and cavorting in Gold Medal fashion?
I did come across a video on Fox Sports with Dominique Dawes and Jason Whitlock that is quite compelling. They both go deeper than the surface in speaking cleanly and openly about a very touchy subject with Black women: our hair. Black hair is not a standard of beauty in America, rather something to be dealt with.
In light of this, it’s amazing that so many of us manage to pull off successful hair adventures without letting on the expense, and emotional costs that we endure to attain the proper level of straightness in our hair. I’m not accepting the false meme that curly hair isn’t beautiful, but not enough of us wear our hair natural for it to be the norm. Recently the advent of products specifically geared toward naturally kinky, curly, cooly hair have gained significant prevalence and hundreds of thousands of Black women have gone natural. It’s a wonderful step in the right direction.
Until we fully accept ourselves, coils and all, we will continue to see dunces emerge from the murky depths to foist their baseless opinions on champions who happen to be Black. I’ll always stand up in their faces and declare them woefully ignorant of what it takes to be a champion, or raise one.
Read more of the Fox Sports piece here: Whitlock: The root of Gabby’s hair critics.
And an updated bit on this controversy here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/06/gabrielle-douglas-responds-to-hair-criticism-what-s-wrong-with-my-hair.html