Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
Gabby Douglas just became the first African-American to win an all-around Olympic gymnastics gold medal. But it's not what's around her neck that has set the interwebs ablaze with chatter. It's what's atop her head.
Douglas's hair, which the Virginia Beach native has worn in a casually pulled-through bun for the duration of the competition, has been taken to task for its lack of style and debated by feminists who are incredulous that it's even an Olympic topic (seriously, when was the last time we all harangued a male athlete over his lack of styling?).
"I just hate the way her hair looks with all those pins and gel. I wish someone could have helped her make it look better since she's being seen all over the world," 22-year-old Latisha Jenkins told The Daily Beast.
Now I have to admit something. Both the former competitive figure skater and beauty editor in me were let down when Douglas made her first appearance with undone hair.
Like gymnastics, figure skating is judged by a panel of people and not by a clock. In such sports, showing up with less-than-perfect hair is akin to arriving to a job interview in flip-flops and shorts. I can guarantee you that the same coach who had me polish my skates to alabaster perfection the night before competitions wouldn't have let me step foot in front of the judges with Gabby Douglas hair. My coach would have insisted it communicates a lack of preparation and carelessness, even if that's not the intent.
Also, it seemed Douglas was missing an incredible opportunity to communicate her personality and performance aesthetic with a signature style, especially given such a tremendous stage. After hours of viewing swimming, diving and track, am I so horrible for craving some old-school glamour from the gymnasts? A little glitter spray gel with a coordinated crushed velvet scrunchy perhaps? (And thank you to Russia's Aliya Mustafina for delivering not once, not twice, but event after event with that killer cat eye!)
But after Douglas flaunted the same half-pony style day after day, I realized she WAS making a statement. I get it. She simply doesn't want the focus to be on her hair. And you know what? That's a bold beauty move, especially when you're only 16 years old and have the entire world watching you.
In fact, Douglas told the Associated Press, "Nothing is going to change. I'm going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well stop talking about it."
And lo and behold, she did just that.
Confidence and swagger are certainly a distinctive style—and in that sense, no one wears it better than Gabby Douglas.