While the Olympics should be a celebratory time for Gabby Douglas, her mother says that bullies are ruining the talented gymnast’s Olympic adventure. In a recent interview, her mother Natalie Hawkins says she’s been mocked and attacked on social media. The 20-year-old has been bashed for her hair, complexion and even been called unpatriotic for not placing her hand on her heart during the National Anthem. Hawkins says,
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“. You name it and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?
On the National Anthem backlash, she says:
I don’t think respecting your country or your flag boils down to whether you put your hand over your heart or not. It’s in your actions towards your country, how well are you abiding by its laws, how well are you helping your fellow citizens? We grew up in the military community. My mum spent almost 30 years in the military, my dad’s a two-time Vietnam vet. Because of that it was so insulting that they would accuse my daughter of being unpatriotic when we are so tied to the military family. When the Star Spangled Banner is played, most military members either salute or stand to attention.”
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.
On whether Hawkins thinks her daughter was targeted because of her race, she says:
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.
For now though, she’s advised her daughter to stay off social media.
They keep attacking her about not smiling but they don’t know what she is dealing with. If they did, this would not be a conversation. They would (understand). But this is not the time or place to tell that story. I want … people to show me if they have ever seen Gabrielle being disrespectful … or say something inappropriate. There is nothing because for her being a role model is such a supreme honor. 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.