Beauty is a fluid concept, a subjective idea, a perspective, an expression of… life! And beauty can come from many places—from what the eye beholds; from how a person expresses him or herself creatively, from a person’s character. Or even the degree to which a person moves you emotionally.
This is why I was very sad and disappointed to hear the conversations swirling around all of the social media networks regarding Gabby Douglas— a 16-year-old Black girl from Virginia that achieved Olympic Gold and inspired millions of other young girls around the world—and the problem some in the African-American community had with... her hair.
Thankfully, most of the conversations were positive-- about what an inspiring role model she was. But what disturbed me was the small yet relentless handfull of tweeters who could do nothing but complain about her “un-combed and nappy hair.”
Rather than celebrating this very talented and limber gymnast for her huge accomplishments, her hair overshadowed history-in-the-making.
My question is, Why is this a topic of discussion?
Have we become so engulfed in external imagery that we have lost focus on what is most important, which is hard work, discipline and achievement? Or better yet, why is natural or kinky hair still such a shock to some people? For her to be successful, must she buy into changing her look just to be accepted by society?
My answer is absolutely not.
Once again, the idea of “not accepting yourself as you are” is being reinforced to our young, African-American women. The media does a good enough job at these depictions. But must other African-American women add fuel to the fire?
I read one post where a thirty-something African-American woman stated that first impressions were important and that Gabby did not represent us well.
..So reality shows with African-American women fighting and swearing on national television is a quintessential example of who we are?
Young Gabby is an athlete, not a supermodel. She has to run, jump and flip all over the place. With that comes sweat. I am sure the last thing she is thinking about is keeping her hair in tact. And if anyone expects her to be picture-perfect just to appease him or her, get over it.
Whether a person’s hair is kinky, straight, or curly, what we should want for everyone is to see them succeed and grow into the best person possible: That’s the true origin of beauty.
So regardless of what you or anyone may think about little Miss Gabby Douglas, she is developing an Olympic-sized character that makes her beautiful beyond measure. And even better, like her hair, that character (and beauty) is still growing!