Online harassment

U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas ‘devastated’ by online bullying, her mother says

Gabrielle Douglas of the United States sprays in preparation for competing on the uneven bars during the Artistic Gymnastics Women's Team Final on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

“Crabby Gabby.” Taunts about her hair. Accusations of skin bleaching. Criticisms for not being “patriotic” enough. Body shaming. It goes on and on. This is the stuff of online bullies who have directed their ire at in recent days at U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas. Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, appeared on CNN Monday to discuss the bullying her daughter has endured all while trying to compete on the largest stage in the sports world. Hawkins said Douglas has been “devastated” by how people have seemingly turned on her. Four years ago, at the London games, Douglas was beloved by fans. “You go from people’s adoration to being the brunt of criticism and hatred,” Hawkins said. “It is hard, because her nature is so giving and so kind.”

Douglas has been subjected to all manner of slights, even the classic sexist criticism that she doesn’t smile enough — never mind that she’s competing in the Olympics and probably more concerned with concentrating on nailing her routines than making certain her grin is perfect for the nit-picky TV viewers. Watch Hawkins interview on CNN below.

Plus, the 20-year-old gymnast has come under fire from those who questioned her patriotism for not putting her hand over her heart while the national anthem was played. To that, her mother said, “It was harsh to boil down your patriotism to one act. That doesn’t determine how honorable you are, or how happy you are to compete for your country.”

Douglas is not the only U.S. gymnast to have to deal with such a distraction away from the gym mat. Her teammate Simone Biles weathered her own controversy after NBC announcer Al Trautwig insisted that Biles’ grandparents, whom she refers to as her parents after being adopted and raised by them, were “NOT her parents.”

Read the full story at CNN.

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