After winning yet another gold medal at the 2016 Rio games, what should be a week Gabby Douglas celebrates for the rest of her life has been anything but.
Whether it was the extreme backlash she received for not putting her hand over her heart during the Star Spangled Banner, not qualifying for the indivudal all-around event of women’s gymnastics, finishing seventh on the uneven bars, or even something as petty as her hair — Douglas opened up on Sunday after her final event as an Olympian and elaborated to ESPN’s Johnette Howard about the ‘hurtful’ things that have been said on the internet about her:
I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity … 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.
I apologized if I offended anyone … I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people. When I heard some of the comments, I was finally like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s far from me and far from my personality at all,” Douglas said. “I’ve been through a lot. A lot. Sometimes I sit back and say, ‘Wait. What did I do to disrespect people? What have I done to disrespect the USA?”
“I don’t get that part,” Douglas said, tearing up again. I’m sorry.”
And in a story by Reuters’ Pritha Sarkar, we learned that Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, wasn’t afraid to defend her daughter and/or label the situation for what she believes it really is — ‘bullying’:
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 teammates. Now you’re “Crabby Gabby”
Maybe people are very frustrated. Our country has a lot of unrest and turmoil recently and people are frustrated and maybe they just want to vent and they just see someone innocent … and bully them.
What I saw in the stands was someone who was hurting and she was also angry. What was going through her head was ‘I’m being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked.”
You name it, she got trampled … What did she ever do to anyone?
Long story short: social media bullying attacks continue to be a serious problem in today’s society, and no matter where you stand on the issues surrounding Gabby Douglas — it’s always discouraging to see a role model who simultaneously serves as a beacon of hope, hard work, and accomplishment to so many get shunned the way Gabby has at the 2016 Summer Olympics.