When an Olympic athlete’s 4-year struggle comes to an end, they’re usually celebrated.
But gymnast Gabby Douglas found herself the target of a lot of online bullying, and now she’s opening up about it!
Oh, and her mom has something to say too…
Throughout the games in Rio, Douglas has been dragged online a few times for her looks and attitude. The majority of the hate came when the 20-year-old did NOT put her hand over her heart during the national anthem — and viewers apparently lost their minds on Twitter!
On Sunday, the brunette beauty talked a bit about the difficulties of being bullied online while she addressed the press during her post-competition interview, saying:
“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity. Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”
“I apologized if I offended anyone. I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people.”
In a separate interview, Gabby’s mom Natalie Hawkins defended her daughter, telling Reuters:
“She’s had to deal with people criticizing 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. Then it went to not supporting your team mates. Now you’re ‘Crabby Gabby’.”
“We’ve been brought to many tears because I don’t know what she’s done to warrant such an attack. To me it looks like she is being bullied.”
Natalie went on to talk about where all the criticism was coming from saying:
“Many people are telling me that all the time. And that’s from white people and black people. I don’t want to believe (it’s a race attack) as I want to have more faith. But when I go on Twitter, I can’t help but see that all the blacks are saying: ‘was it just the white people that are saying this against us?’ Maybe people are very frustrated. Our country has a lot of unrest and turmoil recently and people are frustrated and maybe they just want to vent and they just see someone innocent … and bully them.”
“Gabrielle’s had her heart broken, but she’s determined she will go out (on Sunday) and she knows she still has a job to do for Team USA. It’s a huge honor for me to be her mother as she’s the bravest person I know.”
[Image via WENN.]