Gabby Douglas made history when she became the first American gymnast to win gold in both the team and individual all-around during the 2012 Olympics, before going back for another gold medal four years later. Despite the young woman’s accomplishments, however, the conversations she became the center of seemed to be about her hair. And now she’s opening up about it.
The 24-year-old penned an Instagram caption “from the heart” about the relationship she has had with her natural hair throughout her life and her career, writing that it was “completely damaged” as a result of gymnastics. “From a very young age i always had to put my hair in a tight ponytail,” the post reads. “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.”
She explained that it grew despite the damage, but ultimately had to be entirely cut off. “I cried and cried and cried. most days i didn’t even want to go to the gym because i felt so embarrassed that all my hair was gone,” she wrote. “I used to think: why can’t i have healthy hair? despite yet another challenge, i kept going.”
Douglas recalls that “my hair was the topic of conversation” during both the 2012 Olympics in London and 2016 Olympics in Rio, as people took to social media to share criticism of the athlete’s hair while she was competing to win a medal. The olympian called the comments “a little bit hurtful” during a 2016 interview.
Now, Douglas is showing off that her hair is healthy after the years of damage and scrutiny. “Here i am today - no extensions - no clip-ins - no wigs - no chemicals - all me,” she wrote.
Days later, the former gymnast thanked her followers for the support after sharing just a piece of her story.
“It’s not easy opening up and being true and vulnerable about certain things, especially in this day and age. not gonna lie... you guys can be BRUTAL lol. but in that, i have developed thick skin,” she wrote on Sunday. “I am forever grateful to have this platform to inspire and encourage u all. hopefully one day i will have the courage to share my FULL story with you. nothing but love for u on my side. hope u all had a great week.”
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