In the words of comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield, Gabby Douglas gets no respect she tells you. Despite making history, the 16-year-old gymnastic phenom cannot escape criticism from social media and news outlets, alike.
Douglas won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions during Olympic competition. The 16-year-old Virginia Beach native became the first African American woman to win an Olympic all-around title and fourth American woman to do so.
Much of the world has praised Douglas’ accomplishments, but negativity has managed to creep behind her.
Douglas logged onto her computer to Google her name following her amazing Olympic performance and was surprised to find a lot of negative comments discussing her hair.
“What’s wrong with my hair,” she said in an interview with AP. “I’m like, “I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”
In a media blunder, NBC mistakenly aired an inappropriate commercial featuring an ad for “Animal Practice” following Douglas’ gold medal win.
The commercial ran following commentary by Bob Costas on Gabby Douglas’s gold medal inspiring other African-American girls to follow in her footsteps.
“Much of America has fallen in love with Gabby Douglas,” Costas said. “Also safe to say that there are some young African-American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, ‘Hey, I’d like to try that, too.”
The network then switched to the commercial with the small, widely grinning monkey on the rings.
NBC has since apologized for the ill-timed commercial.
Media outlets also decided to dig into Douglas’ family’s financial history. TMZ was first to report Douglas’ mother Natalie Hawkins filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in January.
The filing allows Hawkins to reorganize her finances and pay down debt over several years.
Now, as if winning two Olympic gold medals for her home country isn’t enough, Fox News reports the young Olympic champ is not patriotic enough.
Conservative radio host David Webb appeared on Fox News with guest-host Alisyn Camerota criticizing Gabby Douglas’ level of patriotism for not wearing an American-flagged themed leotard.
“Gabby had that great moment, and everyone was so excited, and she’s in hot pink,” Camerota said.
Webb compared Douglas’ uniform choice to a “soft anti-American feeling, that Americans can’t show our exceptionalism.”
What many news outlets may or may not realize is Douglas is only 16 years old. She got into gymnastics to have fun and compete. Rather than showing disdain for one of the country’s most superior athletes, Americans should come together to shower their champion with love and praise.
She will need all the support she can get when she competes again in four years in the next Olympics. If she doesn’t have the support of the U.S., who else can she turn to?
As one of the country’s favorite motto goes, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
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