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‘I Was So Embarrassed and Self-Conscious’: Gabby Douglas Opens Up About Her Painful Hair Journey

It’s tough enough being an Olympic gymnast with the pressures brought on by training and maintaining your star status without having everyone nitpick at your hair — which has nothing to do with the way you perform. 

Unfortunately, Gabby Douglas has had to deal with these exact issues. While speaking with Madame Noire in 2012, the athlete opened up about her confusion regarding the big debate surrounding her hair. “I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair? Douglas expressed. “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. Nothing is going to change. I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it.”

Gabby Douglas. (Phototherapy: @gabbycvdouglas/Instagram)

Douglas expressed that she felt people shouldn’t be worried about her hair, saying, “We’re all champions and we’re all winners. I just say that it’s kind of, a stupid and crazy thought to think about my hair.”

Years later, the 2015 World Championships all-around silver medalist is speaking candidly about her battle with her hair journey, as she shared an update on her Instagram page showing her recent growth. In the post, uploaded on Thursday, Sept. 3, Douglas spoke in-depth on what her hair had gone through over the years. “From the heart from a very young age I always had to put my hair in a tight ponytail to do gymnastics and due to that my hair became completely damaged,” she began the lengthy caption. 

She continued, “I had bald spots on the back of my head. I was so embarrassed and self-conscious that I put a bunch of clips over the spots to try and cover them up, but it was still noticeable. my hair grew a little, but shortly after, I had to cut all of my hair off because it was so damaged.”

Douglas revealed that her struggle with her hair left her in tears. In some instances, she wouldn’t even go to the gym because she was so embarrassed by her hair. She even questioned herself about why her hair couldn’t grow, and when the Olympics rolled around, it became the topic of discussion yet again. As of today, the athlete is celebrating her growth and says she has “no extensions – no clip-ins – no wigs – no chemicals – all me. 💕.” Douglas attached a photo of her now longer and healthier hair.

Fans showed compassion for the athlete for having to deal with years of criticisms, including one user who wrote, “Sorry you had to go through this Gabby. And even sorrier that everyone was so focused on your hair, they didn’t see that you were killing the game!” The commenter added, “Black women have always had a love/hate relationship with their hair. Bald or with hair, short or long, nappy or straight, black or colored…we love you however you love you! -Love your true fans 🤸🏾‍♀️.”

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