Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

People are coming to the defense of U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas as she faces intense waves of cyberbullying. The 20-year-old gymnast has recently been harshly criticized for her looks, including comments on her hair, which she also had to endure in 2012, as well as being scrutinized for not smiling. She has also been attacked over social media for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem.

Douglas later tweeted to thank her supporters and also acknowledged the tweets about the national anthem controversy. In a note, she said, “I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played. I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone.”

In the 2012 London Olympics, Douglas made history when she was honored as an Olympic All-Around Gold Medalist, yet even then, she came under fire for the appearance of her hair.

Douglas told ESPN that the comments on social media have been hurtful and that it was a lot to deal with. “I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity,” she said in the article. “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.”

Her mother, Natalie Hawkins, has come to her defense in every situation, and most recently told Reuters that her daughter is heartbroken. “She’s had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin. They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic. Then it went to not supporting your team mates. Now you’re ‘Crabby Gabby.'” She also said that Douglas is the bravest person she knows.

Last month, Barbie honored Douglas by creating a doll in her likeness for being a role model to girls and for “inspiring girls to be anything.” In a video, she encouraged everyone to just “be you.”

Douglas finished seventh yesterday in the uneven bars during her final event of the Rio Olympics, and likely of her career.

Social Media Shows Their Support for Gabby Douglas

Fans and celebrities, including Leslie Jones, Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington, showed their support and love for Douglas through social media.

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding Gabby Douglas?