Stop Picking on Gabby Douglas

On her Facebook page this morning, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas posted the following message: “Whew I finally got some good rest after having to deal with some of this negativity. First my hair – then my mom. I guess noone could wait till we finished competing so that we could keep our concentration and focus. But you know what one more final to go! Ladies let’s make it count!!!! LET’S GET EM!! #USA #beamfinals #floorfinals Pray for us! ♥ Gabby”

Yes, like many people last week, I was won over by Gabby Douglas’s talent and charm while watching the Olympics. After winning the team gold and then the individual all-around gold, Gabby should have been feeling good about life – and she probably was for a while. But it’s an unfortunate and inevitable consequence of being a public figure that somebody’s going to try to knock you down when you should just be relishing the moment of victory. That’s what Gabby is referring to in her Facebook post.

Apparently, there has been a big discussion online because some people have a problem with her hair. Then the fact that her mother had declared bankruptcy made news. And though Gabby didn’t refer to it on Facebook, there was also one prominent columnist who criticized her for making a statement about God after she won the all-around gold medal. In a media culture that often decries bullying, there are certainly still writers and commenters who straddle that line themselves, picking on a 16-year-old girl whose only crime is loving God and being successful at her sport.

Since we’re into lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness over here on the Christopher Closeup blog, I’ll refer you to a positive story about Gabby’s mom (actually, two moms) that fellow Patheos blogger Nancy Anderson French posted today. And for a defense of Gabby’s faith, Nancy’s husband, David, has this thoughtful piece.

Today is Gabby Douglas’s last day of Olympic competition. Hopefully she can stay focused on her sport and perform at her best. There’s definitely no shame in not winning another medal, but the reason shouldn’t be that she was distracted by petty gossip and sniping against her. Go TEAM USA!

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About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

  • sofia mogliazzi

    Its doubtful that the comments made by African American women are void of some of their own personal insecurities and strife when regarding the rejection of their own natural looks. The desire to be polished has caused some people to aspire to ‘white standards’ of beauty while this young athlete has rejected all concern for conformity, and instead had embraced her unrefined African hair to focus on what is important. What is equally beguiling is why the question of this athlete’s looks even entered the equation.

  • MJ

    I wish Gabby had turned off her FB for the duration of the Olympics. No one needs that kind of mess when they are trying to give their best. In fact, I often wonder why any of us leave ourselves open to the silly and stupid comments of strangers who have never met us but still feel free to comment upon us….

  • Wayne Janousek

    Gabby, I am retired and all five of my children are grown. Two had difficulties with bullying in school but we managed. Now they are all successful in life which I thank God for. I love to see our young people shine and in particular there are those like yourself that excel above and beyond. You are fabulous. I had to watch you in action several times over. Watching someone like you makes me feel like there is hope for the human race.. I know you will go on to be famous in ways you may not even know. Love and forgive, two wonderful words. Take care of your family as they are your foundation in this life. I am getting ready to listen to a concert of a young singer of only 12 years old but sings opera like an angel. Her name is Jackie Evancho. As of today you two are my heroes. We should feel sorry for those who try to put us down because most likely their lives are not as rich and happy as yours. We should pray for them.
    All I can say is congratulations and Like Jackie, you have become our ambassador of all that is good and pure..