In the Defense of Hair

9 Aug

I don’t think I was the only one who cried when the camera panned over to show Gabby Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawks, celebrating her daughters win. This moment of celebration was short lived before critics started nagging on Douglas’ hair. Now Hawks, being a good mom, is out there defending her daughter. And she makes a lot of good points.

1. Douglas has been living with a white family in Iowa. And you can guess how many black hair salons there are in Iowa. The answer is none. Hawks said, “I don’t think people realize sometimes that she doesn’t live with me. She lives with a white host family and they don’t know anything about taking care of her hair. And there’s no black salons in their area [in Iowa] – not one. We had to work really hard to find a stylist to come and do her hair.”

2. Gymnastics is tough on hair, any hair. I mean as a girl I can tell you ponytails are not your hairs friend. Hawks said, “It’s really been African American women that have come out and attacked her. They don’t know about gymnastics. She has to keep her hair in a ponytail 28-30 hours a week. In gymnastics you’re tumbling around on your hair. You’re falling backwards on it. You’re doing “timers” and your hair is constantly snagging on the mat, and for our hair that’s very detrimental. You’re going into foam pits – and any hair stylist will tell you that foam on African American hair is destructive. It breaks the hair horribly.”

3. Hawks got Douglas’ hair done before the Olympics. She got a stylist to come do it. Hawks said, “What is funny is I had someone come do her hair before the Olympics. We put all this effort into getting her hair done and they still didn’t like it!”

4. It doesn’t matter what you think of Douglas’ hair, it’s her hair. She should be able to do what she wants with it. Hawks said, “We had to come up with creative ways to keep [Gabby’s] hair looking good. We’ve tried the short hair style, we’ve tried long. We grew her hair out because she preferred long hair. I’m not going to make her cut her hair just to please someone else.”

5. Douglas won 2 gold medals, why does her hair matter anyways. Her coach told Hawks that Douglas needed to focus on training. Hawks said, “At this level in her career, hair is somewhat secondary. It was actually her coach who told me that. I was trying to get her into a hair appointment and I wanted to move her training schedule around and he said to me, ‘She’s beautiful. You don’t need to change her hair. We need to focus on training. Hair is secondary. We make time for that after training. Don’t mess with my training time.'”

-M

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