Hair We Go Again: What We Should Really Celebrate About Gabby Douglas & Simone Biles

Team USA gold medalists

Team USA Gold medalists Alexandra Raisman, Madison Kocian, Lauren Hernandez, Gabrielle Douglas and Simone Biles / Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Gold medal Olympians, Gabrielle (Gabby) Douglas and Simone Biles, have reached unprecedented heights and have repeatedly demonstrated that they are two of the world’s greatest gymnasts. Their achievements are unrivaled and both women have shown all of us how graceful and remarkable they are through their dedication to excellence. They have quickly become our country’s darlings and brightest stars and serve as role model to girls (and boys) who aspire to be great one day. So why do we have to discuss hairstyles about these women?

Hair we go again with this “simple” conversation that we had four years ago when Gabby Douglas showed us how great she is.

As a clinician and parent, it breaks my heart that Black America continues this debilitative discussion about two of our greatest athletes and how they wear their hair when they compete.

Yes, I said it. We are having a discussion about two Black Olympic gold medalists and how they wear their hair.  Moreover, we have unfairly compared them to other women who have a different texture and style of hair as if their hairstyle could enhance their performance.

Even more confusing are the conversations that we have had about Gabby’s and Simone’s parents/guardians and how they should be ashamed to have let their daughters appear on national television without having their hair “done”/”did”.  SMH.

The chains and shackles of Eurocentric and supremacist standards of beauty, systemic oppression, colorism and sexism continue to have such a profound hold on our discourse in social media, the conversations we have in our living rooms, the dialogue that we have in our churches, and unfortunately, what we teach our children. With all of the discussion about Black nationalism (e.g., Black Lives Matter movement), our push towards collectivism and Afrocentric values, and acceptance of naturally expressed aesthetics, we continue to render ourselves socially and emotionally hostage by our failure to embrace the continuum and fluidity of our blackness. Shame on us.

At what point will some of us Black folks be able to evolve to a place where women/girls can be judged by the work that they do RATHER THAN how they appear?

Over the last week, the young gymnast has been battling social media bullies, who’ve complained about everything from her hair to her patriotism. But now, social media is proving to be the gift, as many rally to celebrate Douglas with #LOVE4GABBYUSA

It’s baffling how Gabby and Simone literally dedicated their entire lives towards Olympic history and somehow some of us have lost sight of the impact that our distorted standards of beauty have on how we treat one another as well as parent our children. Heaven forbid someone who is not of African descent make some of the destructive remarks we’ve made about hairstyles and the beauty of Black women.

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