African-American gymnast wins gold, but critics obsess over … her hair

Updated
By Aliyah Shahid

On Thursday, 16-year-old gymnastics phenomenon Gabby Douglas won Olympic gold for the U.S. But as Michael Eric Dyson noted on The Ed Show, all a small number of Twitter critics could focus on was the African-American athlete’s hair.

“Gabby Douglas, you made history w/your impeccable talent & hideous hair,” spewed @BReeMonroe.

Gabby, who is just 4-feet-11-inches tall and flipped and spun through the air in a way that’s less than conducive to keeping every hair perfectly in place, wore her hair in a slightly messy bun that was gelled back with hairclips.

“Congrats to Gabby Douglas on her gold metal (sic)! I wish I could say the same. about that hair! Omg horrible!” blared @shestaken.

“We, as a Black community gotta fix Gabby Douglas’s hair,” chimed in @sarocious.

Hair has long been a critical fixation among much of the black community. On the same day that Gabby won gold and found her locks come under fire, Oprah Winfrey also stirred controversy for unveiling a magazine cover photo of herself with no chemical treatment in her hair.

Dyson was appalled by the online disparagement of the pint-sized powerhouse, and chastised critics for their callous prioritization of aesthetics over athletic prowess.

“Gabby Douglas is an Olympic champion,” Dyson said.

“She’s being recognized on the world stage for her ability to outperform her completion in a sport,” he added. “And to get there, she had to break a sweat just like everyone else. That should be the focus.”

The “Flying Squirrel” didn’t seem to be bothered by all the haters. She took to Twitter after she won gold, tweeting, “WOW such an AMAZING experience! Thank you all for your support, love and prayers love you all!!! #oncloud9 <3”

Olympics and Sports

African-American gymnast wins gold, but critics obsess over ... her hair

Updated