The INSIDER Summary:
• Gabby Douglas’s Instagram is filled with comments from trolls.
• Many of the comments are misogynistic or racist.
• The Olympic gymnast shut down comments on her recent pictures.
Gymnast Gabby Douglas has a message for people who leave mean comments online: Find something better to do.
Despite her historic gold medal wins in 2012 and 2016, Douglas has been subject to a wave of vitriolic comments on her social media profiles. During the London games, people disparaged her hair. In Rio this August, Douglas was criticised for not smiling while watching her teammates and for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem (something plenty of white male athletes have done without issue, by the way).
And even though the Rio games concluded months ago, the stream of hateful words hasn’t slowed.
“You dumb skank how dare you not put your hand over your heart during the national anthem, your a whore gabby @gabbycvdouglas go kill yourself,” one Instagram commenter recently posted.
Frequently — and even more disturbingly — the comments contain outright racial slurs.
Apparently Douglas reached a breaking point: Four days ago she posted the following note to Instagram, the Daily Mail reports:
“OKK this needs to be addressed, I’m fed up and shutting this down. The people that want to be petty EXIT STAGE LEFT PLEASE. Honestly if you’re gonna be foul just to be nasty or vile to comment I can help you find better ways to pass the time,” Douglas wrote. “We can talk about ways you can volunteer in your community, help the homeless, or be a peer mentor! Anything to help you become a more well-rounded, less obnoxious individual. As for everyone who has always stood by me and supported me, thank you. I love u guys and always pursue love.”
Douglas has disabled all comments on her recent Instagram posts.
“Gabrielle’s had her heart broken,” Douglas’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, told Reuters earlier this summer in an interview about the onslaught of social media hatred. “She’s had to deal with people criticising her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin. They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic […] We’ve been brought to many tears because I don’t know what she’s done to warrant such an attack.”
Douglas and the Final Five just wrapped up their national gymnastics tour in Boston — and there’s still no word on what the gymnast will do now that her Olympics obligations have been fulfilled.
“I really haven’t thought about what I’m going to do after, so we’ll see,” she told NBC as the games wrapped up.
So far, Douglas has offered no further statements on her choice to block comments. We’ll update this post if she does.
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