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.”
— Gabrielle Douglas (@gabrielledoug) August 10, 2016
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.
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 15, 2016
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 15, 2016
#LOVE4GABBYUSA nuff said.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) August 15, 2016
— Danielle Gray (@StyleNBeautyDoc) August 15, 2016
— Ali Benveniste (@apbenven) August 15, 2016
— Cordelia Price (@CordeliaGymFan) August 15, 2016
— Danielle Ricks (@daniellericks) August 15, 2016
— B. (@BrionnaR22) August 15, 2016
insecure, unhappy people get awfully bold tearing someone down, while hiding behind their keyboard. Pay them no mind. #LOVE4GABBYUSA
— Stacey (@SDoyleinMI) August 15, 2016
— Tee Marie Hanible (@TheRealTeeMarie) August 15, 2016
Gabby Douglas is one of three US women gymnasts EVER to win 3 Olympic gold medals. Show some damn respect. #love4gabbyusa
— Chloe Angyal (@ChloeAngyal) August 15, 2016
— Keith White (@keethers) August 15, 2016
— Crissy Bayless (@crissybayless) August 15, 2016
— Scarlett (@scarlettebony89) August 15, 2016
— Casey (@Heyitscaseyduh) August 15, 2016
— Dee (@DeeviusDee) August 15, 2016
All the #LOVE4GABBYUSA! You are a history making Olympic champion who represented your country brilliantly not once but TWICE.
— Emily Kelley (@thatemilykelley) August 15, 2016
— Laura Silverman (@LJSilverman1) August 15, 2016
— Kelly Craig (@KCraig10) August 15, 2016
#LOVE4GABBYUSA When haters attack, just ask them to come and do a flip on the balance beam. Truss me that will shut down everything.
— J. Darryn Zewalk (@darrynzewalk) August 15, 2016
— CherylAnnLambert (@PRProfLamb) August 15, 2016
What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding Gabby Douglas?