Gabby Douglas came out of nowhere to lead the U.S. women to Olympic gold in the gymnastics team competition. Two days later, the 16-year-old continued her historic march -- clinching her second gold medal in the individual all-around competition.
Douglas flipped her way onto the covers of Time and Sports Illustrated and will soon appear on her own Wheaties box. Her athleticism, grace and incredible poise under pressure -- along with her infectious smile and bubbly personality -- have made her American's newest sweetheart.
She is the first American gymnast to win gold in the team and all-around competitions.
Douglas also broke another barrier. She is the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition.
One would think Douglas' accomplishments would be a source of pride for all Americans. Especially for African-Americans, given that so few blacks have ascended to the top ranks of the sport.
Yet, rather than applauding this young woman's stellar achievements, what have some black people chosen to fixate on?
The self-annointed hair police -- women and men -- have taken to social media sites to complain that Douglas' hair was unkempt during her performances. That she should have gotten it "done" knowing that she would be "representing" black people on an international stage.
It appears that some folks had an issue with the fact that
You see. rather than spending her valuable time working with her coach and perfecting her routines, Douglas should have been in somebody's beauty shop with a stylist and a hot comb.
The average person watching the Olympics probably didn't even notice Douglas' hair. It was after all pulled back in a pony tail just like a number of the other gymnasts. When you're hurling yourself through the air at warp speed trying to grab an uneven bar or attempting a flip on a narrow balance beam, the last thing you want is your hair in your eyes.
But the average viewer doesn't have "kinkdar." Hair has long been a touchy subject for black people because historically, beauty in the mainstream has been associated with whiteness. Black women straightened their hair so that it would be long and bouncy. Natural hair was considered "bad."
A great thing about social media is that anyone can post a comment say, to Twitter and blast it out unfiltered to the world. The bad thing is some people will spread catty, hurtful and even hateful remarks, which then can take on a life of their own when news outlets pick them up.
So it has gone with the ludicrous social media-fabricated debate about Douglas' hair that has even made it to the pages of the Washington Post and USA Today.
Douglas is 16 and she's got two Olympic gold medals. Why does her hair matter?
And more importantly, what message does the criticism send to other little black girls with similar hair texture?
"Why do her physical attributes come into play when it's about her raw talent and the fact that she's got two gold medals before she's even old enough to vote?" asked Zakiya Mackey, who runs the Eureka! Internship at Girls Inc. of Alameda County. Girls Inc.'s core mission is to help girls to build self-esteem.
"She's representing real little girls all over the world with short hair, Afro puffs, long hair, whatever," Mackey said.
She views the catty comments about Douglas as cyberbullying.
It saddens me to imagine this teenager logging onto Google to read what's being said about her after her gold medal wins -- as she said she did -- to read this garbage. It's got to hurt her feelings. She is a kid. But Douglas handled the naysayers with trademark gutsiness in a post to her website on Sunday.
"I'm like, `I just made history and people are focused on my hair?'" she said. "It can be bald or short. It doesn't matter ..."
For good measure, Douglas said she will wear her hair in the exact same ponytail for the duration of the competition. On Tuesday, she will go for her third medal.
While her critics spend thousands of dollars on hair weaves, Douglas and her ponytail will be racking up millions in endorsements.