Gabby Douglas spoke about her experience with cyberbullying in an interview with Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth, revealing that the negativity expressed towards her online was so severe that she wasn’t even able to enjoy herself when the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won the gold medal.
“Every single day I’d come back to the village after every single training practice and I literally bawled my eyes out,” Douglas recalled. “I would cry and cry and cry because people were being so mean.” Douglas said she faced criticism about her patriotism, her support for her teammates, and even her smile.
“Going from 2012, I was this smiley, bubbly Gabby,” said Douglas. “And in 2014 to 2016, I was like, I’ll be a little more mature, a little more sass. And everyone was like, what’s wrong with her? She’s not smiling, something’s wrong.”
Douglas is doing better now at tuning out her multitude of online critics, and she says that she wants to help others struggling to deal with cyberbullies.
“You shouldn’t feel pressure to change yourself,” said Douglas. “That’s what I did and it ended up doing more damage … Always be strong, and you can overcome it, you really can.”
Read the full story at Teen Vogue.