U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas is suffering because of social media bullying, according to her mother.
Natalie Hawkins told Pritha Sarkar of Reuters that the criticisms, including the “Crabby Gabby” nickname, have hurt her daughter.
“She’s had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin,” Hawkins said. “They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn’t smiling enough, she’s unpatriotic. Then it went to not supporting your teammates. Now you’re “Crabby Gabby.
“You name it and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?”
Hawkins went as far to say that Douglas is the victim of bullying.
“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,” said Hawkins. “What was going through her head was ‘I’m being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked’.”
Hawkins would like to think that there isn’t a racial undertone to the criticisms, but admitted that she has been hearing that logic a lot.
“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,” Hawkins said. 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.”
You can read about some of the criticism Douglas has faced during the Olympics here. She also had to apologize after she was criticized for not placing her hand on her heart during the national anthem.