Opinion: Why focus on Gabby Douglas' hair?
After her historic win, gymnastics all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas faced criticism about her hair.
August 6th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Opinion: Why focus on Gabby Douglas' hair?

Editor's Note: Tiya Miles is chairwoman of the Department of Afro-American and African Studies and professor of history and Native American studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of "Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom" and "The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story." She is also the winner of  a 2011 genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

By Tiya Miles, Special to CNN

When Gabby Douglas stood on the Olympic podium Thursday, a bright smile on her face and gold medal around her neck, she made history as the first African-American woman to win top honors in the all-around gymnastics competition.

Many African-Americans watching Douglas shared a flush of pride at the accomplishment, noting her joy, her poise, her grace and, apparently, her hairstyle.

I heard about this latter preoccupation from my sister, who swept into town for a weekend visit and opened with, “Have you heard that mess about Gabby’s hair? Type in ‘Gabby Douglas hair’ on Google; you’ll see.” I was dismayed to find a string of posts by African-American women and men debating Douglas’ hairstyle and the perceived imperfection that while her hair was straightened, parts of it had turned visibly kinky during her performance.

The fascination with natural African-American hair

Twitter and Facebook commenters and callers on black talk radio shows questioned whether her hair was too straight or too kinky, whether it was over-gelled or under-tamed, and what she should have done with that floppy bun. My sister, who thought this barrage of criticism was a “mess,” threw in the final comment: “All right, I admit if I was her mother, I would have put a headband on the girl, but really, who cares?”

A significant number of people, if the list my Google search returned is any indication. Why were some African-Americans fixated on hair at a moment that should have been set aside to savor a grand achievement?

For African-Americans and black women in particular, hair has long been troubled terrain. The natural kinkiness or curliness of most black people’s hair places it outside the bounds of mainstream American beauty standards, which emphasizes straightness, length and the bounce and flow of tresses in motion.

Reporter’s Notebook: Viola Davis keeps it 'real'

Historically, the difference of black hair texture has symbolized the inferiority of black people in the minds of some whites and even some blacks.

Naturally kinky hair was viewed as dirty, unkempt and unattractive into the mid-20th century.

In the 1960s and later, as blacks began to reclaim natural styles, Afros, braids and dreadlocks were associated with political radicalism in dominant American culture to the extent that some black women were threatened with the loss of their jobs for wearing braids to the workplace.

Over the years, black women (and men) have turned to numerous products and processes in an attempt to tame their locks into looks more fitting for American society – from twists and ties to pomades and gels to straightening combs and chemical relaxers.

It is no wonder that the first African-American female millionaire, Madame C. J. Walker, earned her riches from selling hair lotions and perfecting the use of the straightening comb.

For African-Americans, smooth, straight hair has been a symbol not only of beauty but of acceptance in broader American culture. And while black women wear their hair in myriad creative ways, one underlying orientation from this cultural history of hair oppression remains: the view that a black woman’s hairstyle is important and even symbolic, so she had better get it right. This is in part why Angela Davis’ Afro became iconic, why Beyoncé’s blond tresses are a signature of her look and why Nicki Minaj made a splash with a twirling carrousel of cotton-candy colored wigs.

Praise pours in for Viola Davis' natural 'do

African-American women feel that we have to “represent” through physical appearance. We know that when we step outside our doors, people do not only see and judge us as individuals, they see and judge our entire community and racial group.

For our own self-esteem and for the dignity of our group, we strive to appear our best. And to do so, we have often tried to replicate the aesthetic values of mainstream American society — including straight hair.

These acts of replication have been internalized such that we often do not distinguish between mainstream standards of beauty and what might have traditionally been our own way of looking at and loving ourselves.

The public reaction to Douglas’ appearance shows that this preoccupation with hair in the black community has gone too far.

In the black culture, a richness of hairstory

After her stunning win, tweeters who publicly demanded “why hasn’t anyone tried to fix Gabby Douglas’ hair?” and charged “gabby douglas gotta do something with this hair!” distracted the nation’s attention from what really mattered in the moment.

Defenses of Douglas posted by black women emphasized salient points: that she was an athlete who necessarily worked up a sweat, that sweat naturally affected one’s hair and that she had just accomplished something none of the “haters” could even dream of. A Facebook page called “I Support Gabby Douglas and HER HAIR” has collected 220 likes.

But overall, the chatter about Douglas’ hair has been insensitive and unproductive. Instead of criticizing this teenage girl for her appearance, black women and men could have been using those 140 Twitter characters to celebrate the skill of an Olympic champion.

The wise black feminist author Alice Walker spoke and wrote about the constraints of hair and beauty ideals in black culture in an essay titled “Oppressed hair puts a ceiling on the brain.”

When we engage in petty talk of perms and gels in the wake of a great triumph, we diminish ourselves and limit the potential of our young women and girls by sending the message that how they look overshadows what they think, imagine and accomplish.

Instead, we should be telling our girls that beauty is as beauty does. So what if 16-year-old Gabby Douglas doesn’t meet an unrealistic black hair-care standard?

She can swing and flip on parallel bars as the best all-around woman gymnast in the world; she can leap through the air like a shooting star.

We should all aspire to lift our heads so high.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tiya Miles. 

Posted by
Filed under: Black in America • History • How we look • What we think • Women
soundoff (1,069 Responses)
  1. Samantha

    I am tired of hearing all the criticism regarding "African American" women talking about Gabby's hair...somebody read some stupid website in which a few black women commented about her hair and have judged all black women to be fickle and vain! Just stop with the criticism! Most black women did not think there was anything wrong with this girl's hair...the media told you that the people complaining were black women and people have just ran with it....I am black and beautiful and I think Gabby is too...the majority of black women are not criticizing this kid's hair and honestly I think she knows that!

    August 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alkebu

    Gabriel is 16 and performing under the worse personal conditions possible and all people can do is nit pick her hair... People please get a life.... Let's see if you can win Olympian Gold and look any better... Let see if you can make it through the day and look any better. What no takers I thought not...

    August 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Beer immediately

    Congrats to Gabby Douglas! Outstanding example of what hard work and dedication will get you. Forget all these D.A. people with the crab in a barrel mentality. Only those people would focus on something as petty as ones hairstyle.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. belinda

    I am enraged that Insensitive People, are judging this Lovely,Gifted,Hard working young lady for whatever. That Gabby is Gracious,Thoughtful and Intelligent should mean way more, than these insults, coming from small minded people.

    August 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ali

    There we go again. Insensitive and fake media. Appearance is everything, success is nothing in this country. This is why millions suffer from anorexia and millions have self image problems. Can't you people just enjoy her success and be supportive for this young girl and be happy for her. And where ever this bs come from please try to flip in the air 4 times and fall on your feet with the speed of free fall and look at yourself in the mirror what you look like. Of course her hair will be like that. And all those successful young girls have the same hair style. Why she is the one getting judged by? Sometimes it is very hard to understand people.

    She is beautiful and she is successful. Don't be jealous people. Were you successful like her when you were at her age? Did you accomplish what she just accomplished? Yeah thats what I thought. So people. Shushhhhh. Just be supportive. She made a history. Conrats Gabby Douglas!

    August 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. L82Court

    Why should a talented and beautiful young woman worry herself over something so petty? Black women do not need to imitate white women to look beautiful. They should be proud of who they are – show some pride for god's sake. Most of those tweets were probably from middle aged harpies; they spent their youth obsessed with making their hair look like Jacqueline Smith. Gabby Douglas projected nothing but strength and confidence throughout the Olympic meet, but these holdovers from the disco age could only see her hair? Pathetic.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    "Why focus on Gabby Douglas' hair?"–Because the Media has nothing better to do, is completely insensitive to anyone feelings or the just don't care/–take your choice.

    August 16, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Columbia 54

    Middle aged white male here. LOVE ME SOME GABBY DOUGLAS! Who CARES about the hair! People, black and white, need to concentrate on what really matters.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharon

      Thanks for your comment!! I agree with you, she has spent years in getting to this level of gymnastics why would you constantly worry about your hair. She has reached her top and we all wish her GOOG LUCK in maintaning it. Professor stop the hair debate. Why would anybody worry about her hair!!!!!

      August 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Linda

        Why is there such a debate over Gabby's hair AFTER she wins a gold medal? She has worked SO VERY HARD to get that platform for anyone to even think about about her hair. Her hair goes with the fact that she is her own person with a personality, feelings, etc.

        When my kids were young, I taught them that everyone is their own special person. I guess not everyone learned that same lesson, given to the adults in their lives when they were young!! That is, if the parents taught them to not be racist and/or stupid.

        August 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lori

    Women of all colors and ethnicities must learn to accept that there is no such thing as perfection. We must embrace the good with the bad. maybe gabby has "bad hair" but guess what, she's got a strong athletic physique and beautiful skin that won't wrinkle. and bonus round: it looks like she'll have a lucrative career ahead and can do whatever she wants with her "imperfect" hair!

    August 15, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Just Call Me Bob

    Having to put up with relentless comments of "Awww, she's just as cute as she can be" coming from my wife, I can honestly say that neither my wife, nor I, noticed anything wrong with Gabby's hair. The kid's gorgeous, does what 99% of us will NEVER do, and accomplished this before she turned 18. People just need to leave her alone.

    August 15, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Flugerio15

    If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they're not happy.

    August 15, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • shootmyfood

      I"m a white person who has nappy hair – and "black" straightening products don't do a thing except break it. No-one has ever faulted my accomplishments because of my hair. As if any of us have a choice about our genetic inheritance. Foolishness!

      August 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • bright

        Sure you do.

        August 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brandi

    Gabby, you are a winner...Ignore the ignorant. They will be wishing they were attached to your hair when the money starts rolling in

    August 15, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. cashmeremafia

    SHE IS A WORLD CHAMPION!! Why in the h*** are people talking about her HAIR??? It doesn't change or diminish one iota the fact that she is among the best gymnasts in the world, and embodies the American spirit of hard work!!! GO GABBY, WE LOVE YOU!!!

    August 15, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. danita

    yes, this is a waste of time... Gabby is an awesome person and has been taught to be very professional... She might not have straight hair, but she's got her own... She's got the gold and she feels great about herself. I'm glad to see this young lady not hiding under fake hair. Awesome sweet person.

    August 15, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandi

      That's right!!!!!!!

      August 15, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. cranky john

    The whole of the US should be praising and congratulating and putting Gabby on a pedestal for her achievements in the world class of olympic achievements NOT CRITIZING HER HAIR GABBY PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE IGNORANT IDIOTS You are a credit to the USA

    August 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  16. TX lady bug

    Ms Miles, and you are perpetuating the useless debate. WHO CARES?? I didn't even think about her hair until you said something. Don't even go there...ignorant people are going to say whatever, the most important issue is that the rest of us lover her no matter what. She is such a gift from God, don't give people a platform for their ignorance and jealousy!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  17. TX lady bug

    true that!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Tony in STL

    I just hate that the haters received enough attention to turn this non-issue, into a bigger non-issue. I'm quite sure that the majority of black americans could care less about her hair, and are very proud of her!

    August 14, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  19. Carmen

    It is petty to talk about her hair, but worse was Gabby mother comment that it was "the white family "that did not know how to work witj black hair, the white family gave Gabby free room and board, treated her like a daughter, the mother drove her all over, at 16 she should know how to comb her hair.
    The mother that gets for years "long term disability" should thank the family that took her daughter in.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  20. KPJ

    Put focus on her deeds, her drive, her accomplishments, her medals........not her hair, cmom people be human for once.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  21. Rachelle

    This is such a shame that black America instead of honoring that girl for her accomplishments choose to focus on her hair. She did not win this metal for her hair. No one has ever won any metal for great hair, and believe me weave wearing chemically straightened hair would not be at the top of the list. When will people ever stop being ignorant!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  22. jane

    Get off of it CNN. THis is crap journalism.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarahplace

      I have locked hair and everybody loves it.... This type of reporting is SICK... please report on scholarly matters.

      August 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Amy

    I didn't think a thing about her hair. She had it up just like the other girls on her team. I don't see why it should be different b/c she is black. Maybe I am just not understanding something.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randi

      I don't understand it either. I'm black and didn't think anything about her hair until I saw this artical. :-/ People are just wierd like that, huh?

      August 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Linda

    Who cares about her hair? She has a head full of hair, just like the white athletes. So what? What matters is that she did something that the ones "hating" on her can't, couldn't, or just plain won't do. Plus, she got a medal out of her very hard work. She ranks up there with the rest of her team...outstanding!! Keep doing what you're great at Gabby! We love you!

    August 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  25. knittytwit

    Who cares about her hair??!! That girl is an amazing gymnist and should be so proud of herself. People always have negative things to say. Just tell them to shut up. 🙂 Hang in there Gabby-girl!

    August 12, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard T NYC

      I don't think that this is a race issue at all. Women, on the whole in America have become so totally overwhelmed with themselves that it's a huge JOKE.They need to stop picking on themselves and others when they feel that they don't measure up. Things such as hair, nails and the latest shoe style aren't really ALL THAT IMPORTANT.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Mercedes

    Who cares about her hair? She's an athlete, she doesnt have time to worry about her hair. Shes worried about being successful and accompling things in life! Something that other people havent even done for themselves in life. We should be happy about who she is and what she has accomplished, not many teens now in days accomplish what she has. Many are worried about going to parties smoking drinking and looking cool. Society now in days is freaking ridiculous, its sad we live in society like this. Im glad that at her age she accomplished ALOT in such a short period of time.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  27. nikki73

    Gabby.......you make American's PROUD!!!!! You are a very beautiful and talented young lady, head to toe. You concentrate on your accomplishments and not what a bunch of idiotic morons have to say. Keep that beautiful head up and a smile on your face.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  28. julie

    who cares about this childs hair? she could be bald for all i care, and still be more talented and a winner in my book. wow what this world is coming to... i'm shocked this drama was started by her own people, black women. now thats really sad...

    August 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  29. R. Henderson

    CNN, shame on you for even putting this B.S. on your site. You all are responsible for starting this mess in the first place when you had Isha Sesay report on this. With everything happening in the world right now, do you really consider scrolling through Twitter posts to be journalistic research? Do you realize that on any given day,there are millions of people who randomly talk about any and everything? Some random tweets about hair is not worthy of being reported on a global news network. Maybe this is one reason why your ratings are so low. Get back to reporting on real stories and maybe your ratings will improve.

    August 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      As long as we are expressing opinions: I don't think yours has any merit. CNN.com has many departments and this article is appropriately placed. I learned something from the article and from people's responses to it. Just because you can't relate, doesn't mean others can't.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  30. GeneK

    This is just bizarre. She's an athlete, not a fashion model. Does her hair interfere with her performance? Is it getting caught in the equipment? Are the judges deducting score points for hair? Jeez.

    August 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Ashley

    REALLY! I know we can talk about some petty stuff here but her hair.... and I thought we couldn't get any lower. Lets the tables be turned and she had a full weave put in, people would talk about that. She is in a sport that is majority white, she came in a did the best job IN THE WORLD and we are going to sit and talk about her hair. This little media bit is outragous and they need to focus on the positive of this young, beautiful, hardworking, determined, all around – best gymnist in the world, young women. What happened to if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all! Go ahead Gabby, you did great!

    August 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Leslie Dillon

    I am an African American Woman whose history isnt tied to my hair. I was taught that my history is tied to Integrity, Self-respect and intelligence. I suggest everyone who has this "HAIR Hangup" to listen to indie arie "i am not my hair." Now that's Words of Wisdom.

    August 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  33. christiem8

    Seriously?? Her hair?? She is a beautiful, hardworking AMERICAN. I didn't see black or white. I saw Gabby. white people get perms, black people get hair straightener.... the grass is always greener on the other side. 🙂
    I love the natural look of curly or straight. Natural is best, but good heavens, who cares?The girl flipped and twisted herself to a gold medal!

    August 10, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • whilly

      this is what happens when people don't remember their history..like when people of color from the US didn't even know what the uneven bars were.....by all means lets find something to tear down this incredibly hardworking your American girl because god forgive her, her hair was not neat enough for the couch potato do nothings in America. God bless you Gabby and thank you for making the USA Proud.

      August 10, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  34. mique

    Petty issue. Way to go Gabby.

    August 10, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  35. Sue

    Hair is a problem for everyone – unfortunately African girls have a curl root problem. God Bless them – they are stilll GORGEOUS!

    August 10, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • TX lady bug

      what?? "hair is a problem for everybody"?? speak for yourself. And since when the issue is about a curled root?? and why you call it a "problem"?? I love curls, big or small. It is just the way people perceive it. Stop making it a bad thing or a problem!

      August 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Sue

    Gabbyis precious, adorable, an example to ALL young girl son this earth

    August 10, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  37. Sue

    Gabby is totally adorable – who cares about her hair – she was Born with the Africnan hair – so wha! She is the most precious of adorables. Who the he- cares about the hair!

    August 10, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  38. Guy123

    Honestly the media has done a great job of propelling absolute nonsense pretty far into the public realm of concern but this one is pretty amazing. Stop attempting to connect everything with race and don't promote menial useless topics such as this one on a national news channel. By doing so you give validity to divisive and convoluted notions that only ignorant and racist individuals care about. My wife is African American and it really doesn't matter what her hair looks like. This girl was doing flips in the air and your gonna sit there and comment that she is trying to deny African American culture by straightening her hair. Maybe she just likes her hair straight. Maybe there is nothing behind this but everyone else wants to make it an issue. Everyone needs to come together and get over dividing each other by what certain races should do or shouldn't do. Its ridiculous. Please report actual news, thanks.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Eusoubra

    I returned to write another post after seeing a group of 3 young Black girls (looked around Gabby's age) on the subway comment on how "nappy" her hair was in response to a magazine cover she is now on. I am 46 years old and long for the pre-perm 60-70's. Blacks for a short period accepted their texture and color and even had their own hair & lots of it! Even educated black women have a fixation on FRIED, DYED and LAID to the side FLOWING hair to their detriment and to such a degree that they don't have any as a result a la Naomi Campbell. Black people talk a great game (Al Sharpton) about pride but are so full of self hatred.

    August 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  40. kmsmaine

    Really people, you are worried about this amazing girl's hair over her gold medal, give me a break. I am white and sit at a desk all day and can't keep my hair from being straight, wavy, curly and frizzy all at the same time. She's doing slips and flying through the air. When did our society get so focused on image that it now outweighs people's accomplishments and who they are? When you can go flip around and do gymnastics and win a gold medal, then you can start talking about her hair, until then, shut your mouths and get a clue. She's beautiful, talented and she's a child representing our country to the best! What are you doing for America?

    August 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • BLP

      Seriously, I am so with you on this one...this girl is amazing! I think it's just jelousy...i can only wonder what they would say about me and my frizzy hair! People need to get over themselves, petty...so petty EH!The person who started all this is probably some fatso sitting on the couch and can barely move their arm to shove another fistful of chips in their mouth...

      August 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • micjey1313

      Agreed, it is sad that people over look her acomplishments and talk trash about her hair, that is not bad at all. Amagen if she had an afro what all the haters would say.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Sharon

    What is wrong with all of you who focus on such meanial stuff. People need to focus on Gabby's ability, her determination, her hard work and everything else that she has done to accomplish and achieve what she has at the Olympics. I am proud of her and what she has done representing the United States. I am not an African-American female but I am an American female who thinks that Gabby is one beautiful young woman with a beautiful smile! There was and is nothing wrong with her beautiful hair. Keep it up Gabby!!!

    August 9, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  42. headBANGER

    First of all that is a child & the GROWN folks should be ashame. Like Gabby said in one of her interviews she over there winning GOLD MEDALS & yall over here talking about her hair. People get a LIFE! read a book, go take a drive, do something with your life.

    August 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Sherri

    Why is CNN even putting this on their web site? IF the stupid media would stop giving it attention, noboby would even be thinking about it. Shut up .

    August 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • imnme

      So why leave a response? Its not going to change the fact that its out there for people like you to inadvertently respond to!

      August 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Lucia

    16 years old? This is the age during which most young people do seek approval from their peer. This is the age at which some teenagers develop eating disorder when they are criticized to be fat! At this age (16), most, it not all teenage are hyper sensitive to any criticism regardless of the source!
    Obviously, the assault launched at this young woman, Gabrielle Douglas, by multi billion dollars news media is directly responsible for her poor last performances. THERE ARE young people BEING TAKEN TO COURT AND JAIL FOR BULLYING OTHER KIDS. The recent case was in New Jersey. The assault on Gaby's hair by the news media was a colossal BULLYING event intended to permanently erode this young woman's self esteem in gymnastics;And the outcome is unmistakable. The media participating on this saga is now pretending that the onslaught was started by African Americans! Since when does major media take cues from ignorant African Americans, particularly, when it intends to assault a young person whose only crime is to excel in a particular sport? What exactly is the motive of ganging on 16-year old kid from a poor family?

    August 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Jethro

    I am a middle aged, white, obese, & balding male. Pick on me...not her. Gabby is a blessing from God! We are lucky to have her represent the USA!

    August 8, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  46. Dee

    A lot of blacks (not all) will spend the rest of their lives in misery. Not fulfilling their dreams and missing out on a lot, because they are too busy watching someone's hair.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucia

      Particularly, the fake hair imported from India and Far East! These are self loathing African Americans who cannot stand the fact that God gave them hair texture and skin color different from other ethnic groups! Having said this, there is no sensible justification as to why major media networks jumped on this pathetic story!!

      August 8, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Eusoubra

    What is the point of this article? A great majority of Blacks (worldwide) take some shame in their physical attributes. it is evident in women who will spend their last dime on wigs, weaves and straighteners that in no way resembles a natural look for them. NEWSFLASH: That Indian texture does not compliment you nor look remotely like it's yours. BUT...Black men also demonstrate a shame as evident by their disdain for women whose physical traits are Afro-diminished or mates who are other anything other than Black. This is so deep rooted in the Black self image and has been since Blacks (and other minorities of color) encountered White people millennia ago. It will never change because Black men and women are now hard wired to loathe their nature to attain what cannot be attained.
    GABBY will read some of this media soon and this programming will be reinforced and the cycle continues as it has for thousands of years. So this author has wasted her time attempting to spark change and acceptance of Black nature.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Peregrine

    What do the black women think is wrong with Gabby's hair? How do they think it should have been styled or fixed? It looked fine to me.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • QueenBee79

      Same here. nothing wrong with it...and quite frankly her talent out weighs anything people can think of to talk about.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Sarah

    I didn't even think the term "African American" until Bob Costas said that, and then I was pretty disgusted. She's an American gymnast. There was an AA gymnast on the team that won gold in Atlanta, 16 years ago. Aren't we over this yet?

    As for her hair, every girl on the US team has the same style - someone called it "deconstructed." It looks like all of them are trying to tie knots with their tresses. Perhaps because hair isn't their concern. They just want it out of the way so they can concentrate on doing their best, showing the world what they can do. People from all over the earth are represented at the Olympics...we need to get passed our petty comparisons.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Mary Boone

    High insecure heels,
    Digging into their self esteem
    Walking on their self respect
    Stomping down in the dirt their dignity
    In order to have long weaves
    Long nails
    Long eyelashes
    to their self hatred

    Ignore your achilles’ heels
    Stand on your toes
    Golden girl gabby
    Your hair is more beautiful than your swing
    Your smile is more adorable than your floor exercise
    Your dismount cannot be discounted by those who criticize your hair
    You are not your hair
    And if you were
    You would be even more beautiful
    If that’s possible

    August 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rai

      Well said!

      August 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Sherri

    I am very proud of Gabby and the rest of the team. Period.
    Worrying about her hair is total nonsense. Very superficial of all of you who are making the rude comments. This young lady has worked harder than most of you will EVER work. Has accomplished more than 99.9 % of us will EVER accomplish. Focus on what she has done. Not her hairstyle. How shallow can you get?

    August 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Gabby is a child, and no child deserves to be attacked by adults the way that she has. I am sure this wounded her. Not only did they talk about her hair, they started in on her Mother and Father. These attacks were meant to destroy her. I am sure that these individuals have friends with like minds, and can celebrate beating her down. But, Gabby has other outstanding talents, a great personality, tenacity, and endurance. We have not seen nor heard the last of her. She will not be defeated, she will continue to maintain her proper place at the top. Gabby is a winner.

      August 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  52. muddy

    I don't think her hair looks so bad. How about Condoleeza Rice? The most powerful woman in the world and she couldn't control her hair! She always looked like she was wearing a helmet. And what about those teeth? With all of her money you'd think she could have found a good hairstyle and got her teeth fixed. Just sayin'.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Jojola

    A sixteen year old has just become the first black female to win two gold medals in a sport that has been predominately white and all some folks have to say is complain about her hair? Matter of fact, I can't believe CNN had the nerves to write about this on their website. Instead of blogging about Gabby's accomplishments, some selected to comment on her hair, really? I pray that Gabby and all the future black young female athletes she has inspired will not read about this insignificant matter. Keep on reaching for the stars, Gabby and God has blessed you with beautiful hair!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  54. MN Mommie

    It's just plain ignorance to focus on her hair. She's there for country not a fashion show!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Amazed

    I am stunned by this article! I noticed she had her hair pulled back into a pony tail like the other girls, but nothing negative. I am a white woman who saw nothing but a remarkable young lady putting on outstanding performances and having the time of her life! I saw talent and beauty! How could you not see anything else when you look at Gabby? Those eyes, cheekbones and smile are fantastic! America should be proud of Gabby! She is remarkable!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  56. ronvan

    This is PURE BS!! Those in the black community, who have access to the newspapers, TV, internet, etc., SHOULD be condemning these comments all over the place! It is totally disgusting, and even WORSE, coming from her black sisters and men! YES, this 16yr. old, just made history! LET her enjoy it without stupidity! She is young, her story & family are a tribute to what YOU CAN DO, if you put your mind to it I am WHITE, yet I am SO PROUD OF HER!!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  57. CNNidegaz

    WHO CARES???????????????

    August 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  58. reallife

    Maxiiscott sound as if she is troubled by her own idenity. I have been natural (hair) most of my life and its people like her who would think my hair was a mess. I'm thankful that people like you dont' define my self esteem. I feel sorry for you that you don't have the freedom to live comfortablely with who you are.
    I'm sure that Gabby will not have a problem spending all those millions she's earned due her hard work. Her hair will not be an issue at the bank.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheryljames

      Not trying to be funny. She will boost black hair products. i love it go Gabby.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        What you said is not funny, it is rather silly and immature. Gabrielle is a winner, she is going to sign with Fortune 500 companies, and not spend time worrying about black hair products. She has already made it clear that she does not have a hangup on hair. Kelloggs is one of those companies, their products are sold all over the world, to all races of people.

        You are so hung up on hair that you have not noticed that there are no commercials for black hair products on primetime TV, the academy awards, or the Super Bowl?

        I am a dark-skinned woman that carries the African-American label. I have hair that attracts a lot of attention from men and women of all races. People are constantly complimenting my hair. I don't dwell on it, in fact, I don't see anything special about it, I don't spend a lot of time in the mirror messing with it. To me it is just hair, and in my mind, it does not look any better than anyone else's. Other people trip on it. I don't see anything wrong with Gabby's hair. To me, it looks just as good as anyone else's.

        August 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  59. EM Richards

    When my husband told me about the comments about Gabby's hair I knew right away it was from our own - African Americans. It is truly sad commentary that her hair was the takeaway from all she has worked hard for and accomplished. We are so quick to put down our own that it still boggles my mind. I was an athlete and tomboy growing up played soccer, ran track and I certainly didn't care how my hair looked out on the field, I cared about winning. I was so proud of Gabby I cried and not once did I care about her hair style. Also, I bet if you took a poll of the stupid people who criticized her hair they are fake hair wearing, fat couch potatoes who can hardly walk and haven't set foot in a gym in ages. Grow up people and get a life!

    August 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  60. anon

    What I dont understand is how black women can AFFORD all that expensive hair treatments. Isn't the black population being particularly hard hit with the current economic times? Some of the most basic of hair care for the black community can cost a minimum of $200.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • cheryljames

      i wonder the same thing about whites,spanish, and orientals that sell that stuff.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnQ

      They rely on Sugar Daddies or extortion from baby daddies (threatening more expensive child support claims). Or they sell food stamps. Not all, but some do.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        Thank you for saying "some of them".

        August 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      It is these kind of comments that got this started in the first place. People such as you that can't mind your own business, and feel the need to try and judge what is going on in someone else's life that you don't even know. Stop tripping about African-American women.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Toya

    My aunt was critizing Gabby and her mom for their horrible hair. I couldn't believe it. What a stupid thing to confirm: that as a group of people, all we care about is how a person looks. It doesn't matter how smart, sweet, funny, or caring a person is, if she doesn't care about her appearence, what's wrong with her? It's sad really.

    That as a group, we complain of not being treated fairly yet here a girl has achieved something great but some in her own community are hung up her hair which anyone who actually plays sports or excercises will tell you will become pretty damaged due to sweat. What Gabby accomplished was truly commendable. It's just sad that some people won't accomplish much for getting hung-up the simple question "How does my hair look?"

    That being said... I was more concentrated on her smile. Gabby would benefit greatly from braces.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. B

      Wow, your comment was great until the end, when you completely undermined everything you said. ::smh::

      August 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Do you, your Mother, Aunt and sister have million dollar contracts with Fortune 500 companies because of your hair and teeth?

      Beauty is a depreciating asset. In other words, as people age, their looks will fade.

      Gabrielle is not only a star, but she has personality, is intelligent and can hold an intelligent conversation.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  62. JRod

    I love Gabby and we as Americans should feel very proud of her. Good for her, i like her hair just the way it is.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      and I love you for giving her the credit that she deserves.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  63. booggaloo

    Does anyone have anything to say about Serena Williams hair in the gold, singles tennis medal round. I don't because they are both very talented and gifted people.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eusoubra

      That is because Serena is ashamed of her natural her and is unbe-wig-able. I wish someone would write an article about the overuse of wigs and weaves from India as if Indian hair represents Black women's ideals of themselves. When I was young only old women wore wigs now it is 9 year old Black girls. Black people instill this mindset in their young girls from infancy so why be shocked when they take to the airwaves?

      August 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dee

        Compared to health, love, family, food, shelter and clothing, hair is trivial. Serena looks like she is healthy. Hopefully she will have a long and prosperous life regardless to how she chooses to wear her hair.

        I have read articles about how black women are supposed to wear their hair. I don't subscribe to that because it is that person's opinion, and I don't have to go along with that person's opinion. The problem is that too many African-Americans are insecure, and hate themselves, so they lash out at others.

        August 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sarah

        Serena wasn't wearing a wig - she had a headband on. Looked like she was just getting it out of the way.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • micjey1313

        you do know that Williams has a pretty sevier medical condition dont you? Im sure that has a lot to do with what people are talking about.

        August 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sarah

        Venus is the one with the autoimmune illness, not Serena.

        August 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      I have no complaints about anyone's hair.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  64. M

    Woman's beach volleyball is sooo much more interesting and fun to watch, luv what they wear.

    August 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • TWD

      But they are not nice looking women so the bikinis are not a good look for them.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  65. Secondaire

    Gabby is fabulous, and Americans of all colors should get behind her for what she is – an Olympic champion! Everything else is superficial nonsense!

    August 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Richard

    This is sick.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Jeff

    The black women criticizing Gabby Douglas' hair could probably learn a thing or two from Gabby Douglas about priorities, dreams, and hard work. It's not an accident that Gabby Douglas is on the podium in London and the haters are sitting on their couches munching on potato chips. If the black community had more Gabby Douglas, they'd have a lot fewer problems. There is no doubt about it. Great job Gabby Douglas! America in general is very proud of you.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dian

      I agree. What does her hair have to with her accomplishment. The topic of her should have never been made a topic. As a black person sometimes I wonder why so many blacks worry about insignificant nonsense. The ignorance that I hear at so many times is unbelievably unnecessary. I am happy for Gabby and I will promote positive words about of my mouth for her instead of petty insignificant nonsense.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  68. cyclegurl

    Seriously.....Enough already.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Steve

    Also one more thing, do you realize the publicity that this girl is getting from this controversy and the amount of money she will be earning from endorsements, far more then if this whole thing had not taken place, It makes you wonder who really threw the wood onto the fire.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  70. elle

    I'm a white woman who came of age during the Carnaby Street, swinging London era in the mid- to late-sixties when that stick-straight hair look was everything. I ironed my hair, of course, and had blistered burn marks along my forearms to prove it. At the slightest breath of mist or sweat, my hair reclaimed its look anyway. I hated myself. It's difficult to express to others how this can frustrate even the smart kid that I was. I was a girl, and I felt ugly. That's not trivial or shallow. It's emotion. I graduated and got my first job in Oakland working with mostly African American girls. At last I had friends who understood. At first we would shop for wigs together, which were very popular at that time, but as the Black Is Beautiful movement arose, more afros and natural looks, braids and creative do's appeared. I got the support and courage to let my hair be itself. Magic! I looked gorgeous, who knew? People stopped me and asked what I did to my hair to get it that way. But it was much more than hair. It was about seeing and accepting the beauty innate in yourself; not comparing yourself to Grace Kelly or hating yourself for not being smooth-haired and blonde. I felt so close to my African American girlfriends that it changed my whole life from then on. And that was 45 years ago! For Gabby, that sweet and brilliant princess, I could wrap her hair into a ballerina bun in about half a minute with a pretty jeweled snood pinned over it - and it would look gorgeous. But she is focused on her moment now; that's what is important. She'll learn all these fashion tricks eventually. For now she has to live for her art.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Lar 5

    Drop the conversation about Gabby's hair. The black community should be celebrating her tremendous achievement. My goodness how stupid is this nonsense. You should be riding around in cars with bumper stickers that say "GABBY IS THE GREATEST". Shame on you.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Gerri

    She has so much to be proud of in and of herself! She is just a child so leave her alone! This world is going to hell and you want to gripe about someone's hair....... so sad!

    August 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  73. donna

    How come nobody ever mentions Serena and Venus Williams' obvious use of steriods. They look like men in skirts – yuk!

    August 7, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • south4evr

      Saying that Serena and Venus Williams look like men in skirts is an insult to men!!! Can you say GO-RILLA???

      August 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      So when two black women basically own a sport it's steriods?? Let me guess hmmmmm "WHITE" stop hating and tell your girls to practice LOL

      August 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      How come you are signaling out African-American women athletes for criticism? This is racism.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • eroteme

        Those who criticize a 50% African-American president are also racists.

        August 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
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