Why Gabby Douglas’ hair DOES matter

10 Aug

USA Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas

One night, while following my favorite Olympic event, gymnastics, I noticed that several Tweeps were commenting on Gabby Douglas’ hair, and realized that while I did notice it was less kept than usual on that particular day – most of Twitter seemed to be displeased with the styling itself, making comments along the lines of ‘Why all those clips?’ and ‘She’s got WAY too much gel in her hair!’

Then came the onslaught of counter-criticizers; people who felt it necessary to write open letters to Douglas’ hair critics by stating that people should ‘leave Gabby alone because while she’s making history, you’re under a dryer still broke and unaccomplished.’ Soon enough, these retaliatory letters brought even MORE attention to Douglas’ hair than the original critics themselves.

In Douglas’ defense, there are several factors that make her hairstyle completely acceptable. For one, her whole team, and pretty much every gymnast in Olympic history has had to rely on gel and a massive amount of clips to keep their buns/ponytails in place and flyaways at bay. Any athlete trying to win the gold should be more concerned with their performance than their appearance if they hope to take home any titles. Douglas is also 16. I’m sure most of us have photos that prove how far we’ve come in our own grooming and appearance methods – why would she be any more advanced in this area any quicker than the rest of us?

Why? Because she’s famous and constantly in the spotlight. Douglas is not the first celebrity to be criticized for their looks despite great achievements. Donald Trump’s comb-over, Hilary Clinton’s scrunchie, and Oprah Winfrey’s perpetual weight fluctuation are all constant sources of criticism despite the great entrepreneurial, political, and entertainment strides they’ve made both for themselves and their respective minority groups. Although not a parody exists that doesn’t cite each of these beauty flaws, their personal beauty choices do not take away from their accomplishments. Conversely their great achievements do not distract from their lack of attention to details in the aesthetic department. The bottom line here is no matter who you are and what you’re doing people will ALWAYS judge your appearance, and yes sometimes it will affect how they treat you.

Despite bringing home several gold medals, Americans are focused on Douglas’ hair

While I’m neither supporting her critics nor abashing their opinions on appearance, I do see an important lesson to be learned here. Whether we choose to accept it or not, appearance is important. We can pretend all we want that showing signs of balding, having a bad hair day or being ‘a size healthy’ can’t and won’t hold us back but it can and more often than not, IT DOES. Be they conscious or subconscious, others make judgments about us everyday based on our appearances. Studies have even shown that our weight, hair, makeup application skin-tone, height, attire, and other physical factors have lead people to make decisions about us regarding our career, financial and personal lives.

So maybe it’s NOT ideal to notice aesthetic flaws when we should be focusing on the quality of work one puts forth. But this is not an ideal world, and until it is, it may serve you best if you remember to put your best foot forward not only in the way you do work, but in your appearance as well.


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