We don't need to (and shouldn't) talk about anything except her accomplishments.
Gabby Douglas is a three-time gold medal Olympic winner — one of which made her the first African American to ever become the individual all-around champion.
Why, then, are we talking about anything else other than these accomplishments?
The gymnast is currently at the Rio Games, showing her talents alongside the rest of Team USA. She nearly broke the Internet — unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons.
The 20-year-old Virginia native has been bombarded with hateful comments involving a few things all women are often criticized for: physical appearance and overall demeanor.
Douglas has been condemned for having “unkempt” hair, which, as an attack against her afro-textured coils, is inherently racist. The criticism is also sexist and downright absurd. Shall we consider what Gabby is actually doing while her hair is “messy?” She’s swinging from bar to bar, running full-throttle and doing impossible acrobatics on a 4-inch beam. No one, however, is nitpicking Rafael Nadal for being too sweaty during his tennis championship.
Next up, the gymnast was called out surrounding rumors that she lightened her skin tone, after photos surfaced claiming her color was different from years past. Again, this issue is primarily racial, as dark skin women across the globe are made to feel inferior for their color yet ridiculed when they use dangerous skin-bleaching creams that are regularly marketed to them.
This bullying is also anti-women. Regardless of whether or not the athlete has actually lightened her skin, we are harping on a physical trait that doesn’t define her as a human being. Though beautiful, Douglas is not a model. She’s not being scored on her bikini bod or her makeup, yet all we can think is, “Doesn’t she look less dark than usual,” as she’s standing on the podium being honored for a world record.
We’re not done yet.
Douglas was also critiqued for not putting her hand over her heart during the National Anthem. The Internet immediately responded, saying the gymanst did not “honor her country” or show respect like her other teammates did.
Interestingly, Michael Phelps wasn’t bashed for laughing during his gold medal ceremony. Though Phelps explained that his innocent laugh came from friends shouting something funny in the crowd, the swimmer nearly got away with murder compared to Douglas’s hand-to-heart mistake. A textbook double standard, to say the least.
Finally, Douglas has also received heat for her RBF. Yes, her Resting Bitch Face, as some might call it. As Douglas watched teammates Aly Raisman and Simone Biles compete in the women’s all-around, many noted that she looked unhappy and annoyed, so much so that she was given the name Crabby Gabby. Truth is, Douglas may not have been thrilled to be there. She was, after all, bumped from competing in all-arounds, and she didn’t perform her best in her individual routines, either.
Women don't always have to be happy. Stop telling this gymnast, and all women, to smile — we’ll do so when we feel naturally compelled to … or when there’s pizza around.
If anything, the ongoing attacks on the young gymnast prove just how resilient she is. Fans, too, have shown their support and expressed their love for her with the hashtag #Love4GABBYUSA. Imagine the waves we could make if we showed #Love4AllWomen in the same way.
This article was originally published at Latina. Reprinted with permission from the author.