She’s had the strength, determination and tenacity to become a three-time Olympic gold medallist; yet, many people on social media have decided to attack Gabby Douglas for her hair, attitude, and lack of Americanism.
While these criticisms range from baseless to superficial and unnecessarily mean, they evoke very real feelings and have driven the 20-year-old to anxiety and tears.
Sunday Douglas finished seventh in her last event at the games: the uneven bars. While speaking with media after, the champion gymnast cried explaining the treatment she’s been subjected to online.
According to Yahoo, she said, “Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”
Douglas continued, “At first they were like, ‘Good job, you’re in the Olympics.’ And then they kind of turn on you. It was hurtful. It was kind of a lot to deal with and you kind of have to stay away from that … [With] everything I had to go through and everything I have gone through, it’s just been a lot this time around.”
Natalie Hawkins, her mom, told Reuters Gabby had her heart broken and it has been an extremely painful experience for both of them.
Of course, many people reached out on social to support the gymnast, but bullying someone online? Bullying an Olympian? Does this just put a magnifying glass on an already huge problem? Why would people take the time to break down their own gold medal Olympian? Is it fair to say she should have just buried her head and turned away? Or is it perhaps more accurate to put the onus on the bullies?