This one goes out to my fellow black sisters.
Gabby Douglas. Olympic gold. The first African-American to win gold in the individual all-around event. The Associated Press’ 2012 Female Athlete of the Year. Role model for princesses of color everywhere. Black Girl Magic. Born in Formation. Scrutinized on the internet about her hair since the London Games.
Hair maintenance is incredibly important to black women in general. We will put dangerous chemicals in our hair to straighten it for a silky-smooth appearance or sit in a salon for an entire day every 2 weeks. Even naturals spend hours and hours on their hair each week, just to keep it healthy and styled. Working out takes planning because of sweat and swimming doesn’t happen without proper preparation.
But hair is not the most important thing to all black women and we can’t expect it to be. Some of us prefer to spend our time and energy doing other things and shouldn’t be judged when the result is “imperfectly” styled hair. Comments on Gabby Douglas’ hair went like this:
How can so many of us vehemently denounce a European standard of beauty, while holding one of our own to that very standard? Our hair is naturally curly and introducing almost any amount of moisture will cause shrinkage of some sort; we need to band together and clearly state to the rest of the world that our natural is beautiful; then we need to believe it and stand in that truth ourselves.
Gabby Douglas is an athlete– a professional athlete at that. These comments about her hair are disgusting and unsupportive. Who really gives a fuck about why her edges aren’t laid for the Olympics? She’s at work, in the business of winning and she did a damn good job despite harsh criticism on social media since the Games began.
This girl is out here doing things most of us wouldn’t imagine doing. Most of us are too afraid of falling off a bike let alone flying through the air with immense control and grace. How many of you with negative comments can do this:
I’ll wait while you try to reclaim the wig that Gabby just snatched from your head.
Ladies, I speak directly to you because despite the comments I saw from black men and people of other races disturbing me, I felt complete sadness and shame for the comments that other black women made. It is up to us to build each other up in a world that is putting in overtime to keep us down.
We have a difficult enough time being accepted in society as we are and as we want to be; we cannot continue to feed into these ridiculous notions of ‘good hair’ the same way that we cannot feed into equally ridiculous notions of colorism.
“…while you’re out here spending your rent money on a new weave, Gabby can buy your life.”
To talk about Gabby Douglas as if she is embarrassing herself or other black women because her edges aren’t laid for the gods is to say that you are embarrassed by the natural look of this and millions of other black woman whose kinky/coily hair often refuses to heel in submission. To criticize Gabby’s hair is to openly accept society’s unreasonable expectations of black hair.
We have to collectively do better. This young woman is a star, shining brightly for the world to see. We should encourage and uplift her so that she can continue to live her dream and show little black girls that they can dream to be a part of world not created for their inclusion. Not to mention that while you’re out here spending your rent money on a new weave, Gabby can buy your life.
I mean seriously, our people are facing systemic oppression; we are being killed in the streets; and the “issue” you chose to speak on was Gabby Douglas’ hair? Let me remind you that she’s in the Olympics and you’re watching her from your couch; clearly the judges didn’t care about her hair and neither should you.
We have no business talking badly about someone who has accomplished more in one week than many will in their entire lives. Many people haven’t even been to the edge of the state they live in, while Gabby is in Rio representing our entire country; leave her and her edges alone, cuz she slays.