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In Defense of Gabby Douglas

The internet isn't happy unless it has someone to hate on. For this Olympic Games, that person's been Gabby Douglas. 2012 Olympic team and all-around champion and 2016 Team Olympic Champ.

Gabby has had the internet shit-storm thrown at her over the course of about a week. If it wasn't for her hair, it was for the way she stood during the medal ceremony during the US National anthem, or getting shit for allegedly not supporting her teammates enough.

My eyes are rolling so hard I can see the back of my eyelids. Seriously, internet? The unfortunate part about all of this is the internet will move on to something even more stupid in two days and then Gabby is left to deal with the hate.

First off - the picture of Gabby during the national anthem? It's one snapshot during the whole medal ceremony.  There's about a billion and one of those stupid memes going around criticizing someone for not following the code of conduct during the national anthem. The internet is really good about taking things about of context. This is a prime example of that so I'm not spending another sentence on that shit.

Gabby gets flack for allegedly not being supportive of her teammates in the all-around final. God-dammit NBC primetime.  Again, internet taking things out of context. Gabby was incredibly supportive of Aly and Simone, congratulating them after qualifications, pushing down her heartbreak during all-around finals to cheer for them. But a split second where she showed her disappointment with herself and the camera happened to catch it, she finds herself demonized once again.  Seriously?

Here's a thought experiment, think of a time where something in your life wasn't going the way you wanted it to go and someone close to you is having grand successes. Say your friend got a huge promotion, your sister is pregnant,and at the time, your life wasn't going the way you wanted it, with jobs, with life etc. etc. You are happy for that person, but there is that twinge of sadness that you try to shove down and try to be happy for that other person. I imagine that's what Gabby was feeling. Trying to show only happiness for her teammates' success, but feeling the disappointment in herself that's hard to deny sometimes. It has NOTHING to do with the other person, but everything to do with yourself. It's a momentary blip of sadness that you try to hold in, but sometimes, comes out at inconvenient moments.

Gabby's shitty Olympics pretty much culminated after the uneven bars final. She wanted to have an individual medal, but that just didn't happen. She sat with Christian, her coach, while the camera zoomed in on her face while she tried not to cry.  According to ESPN, she finally let it out after the mixed zone interviews where she finally found a chance to be alone and cry.

I think part of the shit she's getting is due to sexism. A male athlete is allowed to show disappointment and have real human emotions. But as a woman, Gabby must hold back her tears and be gracious and gentile. Then, I wonder if part of the reason she is getting so much shit is racism.  In 2012, McKayla Maroney made a not impressed faee and became a meme, after feeling frustrated and angry with herself.  Gabby Douglas shows frustration with herself and it's the next national crisis.  The difference between McKayla and Gabby is McKayla is white. McKayla feels her feelings and becomes an internet sensation. Gabby feels her feelings and becomes an internet pariah.  Let the girl feel her feelings.

But, for all the hate Gabby gets, she has her defenders. Hopefully, Gabby can realize she's got supporters and not everyone hates her.  I hope she understands the internet can be a shitty place, even for all the wonderful things it provides us.

Despite her really not great Olympic experience the second time around, she still has so much to be proud of. She won another gold medal with her team, qualified for an event final and despite not medaling, finished TOP 8 in the WORLD on that event.

Here's some more food for thought. Via Hank Green of Vlogbrothers. He did this video essay on ending internet outrage.

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