Gabrielle Douglas Olympic Gold Medalist
First African American Woman to Win an Olympic Gold Medal in Individual Gymnastics ~ and That Is Not All!
Gabrielle Douglas, at age 16, was the first African American woman from any nation to win the Individual Gymnastics Gold Medal and to help the U.S. bring home the gold as a member of the U.S Gymnastics Team – the first gymnastics team gold medal for the U.S. since 1996.
Before Douglas (affectionately called Gabby), Dominique Dawes, also African American, won the silver medal (1976) for Individual Gymnastics and helped bring home the gold medal in team gymnastics for the U.S. in 1996.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas won gold medals in both the team and individual all-around competitions. That is correct, she actually won two Gold Medals. Gabrielle is the first woman of color of any nationality and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion. She is also the first American gymnast to win gold in both the gymnastic individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.
Read Gabrielle's incredible biography here: http://gabrielledouglas.com/biography Just copy and paste the URL into your browser.
Gabrielle Douglas Won the Olympic Gold Medal but Received a Failing Grade On Her Hair
WARNING: This will no doubt be a controversial article and may not be for the faint of heart.
You might expect that most people’s concentration would be focused primarily on this momentous event and on the young woman who worked so hard to achieve winner status. You might expect people to be focused on this amazing young woman who has been working most of her young life towards this achievement. However, incredible as it may seem, the thing people were tweeting about and posting about on Facebook, was Gabrielle Douglas’s hair!
Perhaps the least important thing about Douglas was what everyone was excited about. Her achievement was forgotten and sidelined in favor of criticizing her hair. It would seem that a woman’s appearance, even in these enlightened modern times, is more important than anything else about her – not only to men, but to other women as well!
Swin Cash Weighs In On the Hair Issue
ESPN reports: "It makes me absolutely sick to see these comments about Gabby's hair," said Swin Cash, the decorated Team USA forward who is in London for her third Olympics. "What sickens me more is that it's mostly people from our own community. She is a beautiful, talented young lady. I hope she ignores the ignorance because she's an Olympic gold medalist. Enough said."
Will Women Ever Be Appreciated for More Than Looks and Entertainment Value?
How can women ever hope to be appreciated for their intelligence and their accomplishments if they are judged first and foremost on the quality of decoration they provide? How can any woman ever hope to escape the outdated belief that she was put here on this planet solely as a bit of decorative entertainment – and secondly a house frau and a baby maker?
That is not to say that women’s traditional contributions are not worthwhile, but women are capable of so much more. Yet it seems women cannot shed the idea that they must be sexy, beautiful, and dressed in the latest couture, and their hair arranged perfectly in the most current style before they dare to compete in any other venue lest they face the worst criticism even from people you might expect to be their staunchest supporters.
Did anyone ignore Michael Phelps’ gold medal in favor of criticizing his hair or any other physical aspect of him as he emerged from the water? Or as he received his gold medal? No, they did not.
More Opinion On the Hair Issue
The Source reports: ‘”In her own words in a recent interview, Douglas stated, “I just made history and people are focused on my hair? It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”’
Christina Pesoli of Huff Post Parents writes: “. . . before Douglas had time to feel the tug of those gold medals around her 16-year-old neck, the weight of unfair criticism began to pull her accolades down. Suddenly, when it came to Gabby Douglas, the main topic of conversation wasn't her breathtaking performance or her grace under pressure. Rather, it was her hair and her leotard. Instead of getting praised for her professional performance, she was getting pummeled for her personal appearance.”
Sexism Lives and It Is Even Used Against Women by Other Women! Move Over Don Imus!
It seems that sexism is so pervasive in our society that even women criticize other women the way men have always done. It does not seem to be sufficient in the minds of some women that men have always judged women primarily by superficial measures, but now women want to bash each other by the same standards!
Some people may recall how Don Imus, shock jock radio personality, back on April 4, 2007, made disparaging remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team calling them, “nappy headed hos.” CBS fired Imus for stepping over the line and canceled his show.
It is long past time for both men and women in this so-called post feminist era to get past superficiality and start judging people of both sexes on substantive issues.
Unbelievable that anyone, much less adult females, would dim the lights on Gabrielle Douglas’s achievements because of her hair. Achievements Douglas earned because she was often hard at work when other children and other young people were out goofing off. Achievements that will serve her well all of her life if people will just stop obsessing about her hair and appreciate instead, her courage, determination, dedication to excellence, and fortitude.
Gabrielle's mother talks about the sacrifices the whole family made for Gabby's interest in gymnastics.
© 2012 C E Clark
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