Gabby Douglas Calls Social Media Critics ‘Hurtful’


Gabby Douglas came under fire for not placing her hand over her heart during the U.S. national anthem, after she and Team USA took gold in the team gymnastics event at the Rio Olympics last week, however, the 20-year-old gymnast endured further criticism over things such as her hair and people accusing her of skin bleaching.

After completing the last routine of her Olympics career, Gabby opened up about her critics, calling the negative comments “hurtful.”

“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity,” she admitted. “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.”

She noted: “I apologized if I offended anyone,” by standing with her hands down in front of her as her four teammates had their hands over their hearts. “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.”

Gabby’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, also spoke out about the comments on social media, in an interview with Reuters.

“She’s had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin,” said Natalie. “They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic. Then it went to not supporting your team mates. Now you’re “Crabby Gabby.” You name it and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?”

She continued: “We grew up in the military community. My mum spent almost 30 years in the military, my dad’s a two-time Vietnam vet. Because of that it was so insulting that they would accuse my daughter of being unpatriotic when we are so tied to the military family.

“When the Star Spangled Banner is played, most military members either salute or stand to attention.”

Gabby was also criticized for not giving team mates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman a standing ovation when they claimed gold and silver in Thursday’s all around final.

Simone, who won the individual all-around gold medal in Rio, talked about how this team is as close as sisters, and how Gabby — one of her best friends on the team — was among the first to congratulate her. Aly, who won the silver in the same event, also said that Gabby was among her teammates who spent the morning of the all-around helping her and Simone get ready, asking them if there was anything they needed.

Photo: Getty Images

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