I just about lost it today reading the posts from women and men on Twitter criticizing Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles over their naturally curly and, yes, kinky hair! These two Black women are on the verge of breaking records at the Olympics that will propel African American athletes and women to heights unthinkable a decade ago and all folks have time to do is focus on their hairstyles!
This angered me on so many levels. First, as a Black woman that works out five days a week and has to struggle with having a “good hair day” just about everyday that I appear on camera, I know first-hand how difficult it is to maintain Black hair while I workout. My weekly 20 mile runs are nothing compared to the rigorous workouts that these world-class gymnasts have to do on the regular to be at the top of their game!
Next, as mother of two female tennis players I know the struggles of both of their mothers. When my daughters started playing recreational tennis at five and six years old respectively, I naively thought I could still manage their hair with a good old press and curl. I even convinced myself that with a better conditioner and a “bone straight” press, that bows and fancy hairdos were still a possibility. As Michael and Morgan (my daughters) both started to play competitive tennis, I quickly realized that it was going to be “straight hair” or trophies, but something had to give.
It was a no-brainer! The opportunity for Black girls to learn a competitive sport and the hard work, dedication and discipline that comes with it made the choice simple for me as a mother and I am sure given the talent that Gabby and Simone have demonstrated, their moms didn’t hesitate for one second in making the decision to making hairstyles inconsequential.
So to the haters and do-nothing folks that are attacking these beautiful and confident young women, I say get a life! If you had one tenth of the talent these ladies have you would be too busy to even notice their hair. If you had the compassion of a parent, you would applaud them rather than tear them down. If you ever raised female athletes, you would know automatically that nappy hair comes with the win!
When I say I am with Gabby and Simone–I mean that I am standing proud as a Black woman with naturally curly hair, a mother of two beautiful young tennis players whose hair is kinky and whose “edges” could use a super hot pressing comb, but a mother who knows that talent, courage and victory always trump hateful attacks!