America’s Sweetheart, Olympic gold medalist and the first African American woman to win Gold for the All-Around in gymnastics, Gabrielle Douglas sat down with Oprah for ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter.’ In an unsually short interview, they discussed bullying, leaving her parents house to pursue her dream, her relationship with her father and the ridiculous hair controversy. But the cutest moment from the night came from her very proud grandfather (who was wearing a ‘Flying Squirrel’ sweatshirt).
Gabby and her mom chatted with Oprah one-on-one about how Gabby almost quit gymnastics altogether after being bullied for being black. The teenager also told Oprah why she prefers to be called ‘Gabrielle’ vs ‘Gabby’ and why she hasn’t talked to her father since winning the Olympic Gold. When asked how her mother reacted to the hair controversy, her mother responded that she wasn’t suprised, but now they have stylist to do her hair. O.K…. Does anyone else find this answer a little strange?
Here are some of the highlights below:
On being bullied at her former gym:
I was just kind of getting racist jokes and kind of…being isolated from the group. It was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out because I was like, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’[…][When the others were asked to scrape the bars in the gym] “They’re like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it? She’s our slave. It was very offensive and I really think that it should not have been said. You just don’t do that.[…]I was the only African-American at that gym. I definitely felt isolated. I felt, ‘Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black?’ Those thoughts would go through my mind. I was so scared at my old gym to show my potential because a lot of the girls would isolate me still and I was just holding back. I felt like I needed to move and really shine and not be discouraged and let my talent go to waste.
On The Negative Comments About Her Hair:
[I heard about it on] Twitter. I looked at my mentions and they were just like, ‘Don’t talk about Gabby’s hair like that, I love your hair, or Gabby you’re pretty just the way you are don’t listen to all these negative [comments].’ I’m like what are they talking about? So I searched it just to see what they were talking about. I put ‘Gabby Douglas’ and the first says ‘Gabby Douglas Hair.’ Like, the first one on Google. I’m like, what are these people talking about? I was so confused but I didn’t want to focus on the negative. I hurt a little bit.
I foresaw it coming. I had a stylist come down and they did her hair before Olympic trials, and I thought ‘I did good’. They, other African American women didn’t like it, and that hurt. She has some great stylists working on her hair now. We don’t have to worry about the hair anymore.
On No Longer Wanting to Be Called ‘Gabby’
Well, my friends call me ‘Gabby’ but I think I’d rather be called ‘Gabrielle.’ I like the beauty of ‘Gabrielle.’
On Not Having Contact With Her Father
I have not [talked to my father since winning]. We’re kind of distant. I got a new phone and my mom thought it was best to keep me [protected] and him not to have my phone number so he had no way of contacting me.[…]I don’t think it would be the best [to contact him]. I think I’ll just stay kind of under the bubble.