White athletes becomes memes, while black athletes get bullied.
Over the past few days, elite gymnast Gabby Douglas has faced a barrage of negative comments on social media over her appearance and demeanor at the 2016 Olympics. From her hair, to her apparent lack of patriotism, to her facial expressions, Douglas has been the target of some pretty harsh criticism. In the midst of #PhelpsFace, and just 4 years after fellow gymnast McKayla Maroney’s famous smirk went viral, the reaction to Douglas’ lack of smiles seems over the top, if not aggressive and targeted.
In a tearful interview with The Washington Post, Douglas addressed her critics, and also admitted that she had been avoiding social media during most of her time in Rio.
“When they talk about my hair or me not putting my hand on my heart or me being very salty in the stands, they’re really criticizing me, and it doesn’t really feel good. It was a little bit hurtful,” she said.
Since Sunday night, Douglas has received an outpouring of support on social media with positive messages coming in on both Instagram and Twitter via the hashtag #LOVE4GABBYUSA.
Comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones, who had recently faced some extreme Twitter bullying of her own, was among those tweeting positive messages.
Yo I just heard Gabby getting attacked on her page show her the love you showed me #LOVE4GABBYUSA and I also got jack on the case!Sorry baby
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 15, 2016
Even after Douglas tried to apologize for her perceived demeanor, the hits keep coming, with many claiming that Douglas is a sore loser. Despite the comments, Douglas is still fighting to keep things positive.
“I’ve been through a lot,” she said. “I still love them. I still love the people who love me. Still love them who hate me. I’m just going to stand on that.”