Gabby Douglas is a remarkable young woman. She is a multi-gold winning medalist in the field of gymnastics. She is known for her trademark giggles and smiles, which have endeared her to a wide public. In the 1970s, the Mary Tyler Moore was a classic television show that followed the life of Mary Richards as she struggled with life and career as a young, single woman. This was pretty revolutionary in those times. Gabby is another such role model because she is the first African American to win a gold medal in the all around competition part of gymnastics. In the introductory song to MTM’s show, there is a lyric that asks, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Of course, by “turn on” they didn’t mean what is meant by the expression these days. It just meant make the world happy. Gabby has a smile that definitely makes the world happy that she has accomplished so much at such a young age. She is only 16.
And yet there is a sizable contingent of online chatterers who are obsessed with such superficial things as Gabby’s hair. She secures it with a barrett so that it stays out of her way. She wears a ponytail that takes into account the reality of how rough gymnastics can be on a person’s hair. Gabby should be celebrated for her groundbreaking victory, rather than denigrated for the fact that her weave doesn’t match the standards of the narrow-minded, short-sighted, mind-boggingly dumb social media critics. There should be a gold medal for the Olympic sport of being a superficial twit, but the competition would be unparalleled.
As I pointed out earlier, one of Gabby’s gold medals is in the “all around” portion of gymnastics. This is interesting because it reminds us, unintentionally, that it is a person “all around” that is important, not just their hair, or length of their legs, or how good they look in a bikini (although Gabby obviously does great in any of these areas as well, probably!). Hopefully people will start to remember that each person has a unique gift that they contribute to society. Gabby’s is not only her athletic and gymnastic prowess, but also her infectious smile and laugh that we have been lucky enough to witness.