Black Woman Rising: Gabby Douglas Raises the Bar

Black Woman Rising: Gabby Douglas Raises the Bar

The 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist and history-maker is  only just beginning
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his month, EBONY.com launches  “Women Up: Black Women Rising,” our first editorial series  dedicated to empowering and celebrating Black women. What better way to kick off  our new series than to feature the awe-inspiring Gabrielle Douglas? The  17-year-old gymnast leaped into our hearts at the London 2012 Olympic Games  where she made history as the first Black woman and person of color to win the  gold medal in the individual all-around competition and the first American  gymnast to win the individual all-around and team competitions at the same  Olympics. And this young Black woman is still on the rise.

Nearly a year after the Olympian rushed out to McDonald’s to celebrate her  gold medals with an Egg McMuffin, Gabby is now the new spokeswoman for the new  McDonald’s Egg White Delight McMuffin, a healthier alternative to her favorite  breakfast sandwich. Considering the high rates of obesity among Americans and in  the African-American community specifically, Gabby tells EBONY.com that she’s  happy to promote this affordable yet healthier option from McDonald’s.  “Personally, I love McDonald’s [and have] since I was very young. And now that  they just came out with the Egg White Delight–and I love egg whites–this is  perfect for me. Egg whites definitely have a lot of protein.”

But just as important as physical health, Gabby is also  promoting emotional health and self-esteem in young Black women with her  participation in P&G-sponsored My Black Is  Beautiful documentary, “Imagine a Future,” a powerful and inspiring film that  follows a young Black high schooler to South Africa on a journey to  self-discovery and self-love. In the film, Gabby speaks candidly about her own  struggles with self-esteem growing up a minority in the gymnastics world. Beyond  the non-troversy that was hairgate at the 2012 Olympics, Gabby  opened up about hateful comments that her former gymnastics teammates and  coaches would make about her skin color and her nose shape, with some even  suggesting that she have plastic surgery on her nose to be more successful. But  now, Gabby says she’s healed from those hurtful experiences and is looking  towards the future.

“I was a little bit younger at that time [when those comments were made,  but] it’s in the past now. I forgive them. I’m moving on.”

She speaks about how she forgave and overcame these  controversies in her second memoir that was just released this week, Raising  the Bar, where she also provides tips for young women on  how they can raise the bar in their own lives. Taking her own advice, Gabby  spends most of her days in the gym preparing for the 2016 Olympics and working  to achieve her goal of more gold medals and more history-making. After that, the  world is wide open for the young champion.

“After my gymnastics career, I’d really like to get involved with  foundations. For college? After 2016, we’ll have to see. It’s kind of hard to  fit everything and my gymnastics schedule just because it’s so intense. In the  future or down the road, I think there’s going to be a lot of great  opportunities for me.”

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