As Gabby Douglas took gold as the first Black individual all-round gymnast, Black women around the country began picking apart the young athlete’s hair.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter became infiltrated with messages focusing more on criticizing Douglas’ team uniformed hairstyle rather than her performance.
In the middle of the controversial tirade was Sporty Afros, the first to come to Douglas’ defense.
Monisha Randolph’s blog, “Monisha’s Minute: The Gabby Douglas Hair Controversy….Unwrapped” was met with both applause and scrutiny.
However, her analysis helped create a great platform of exposure for the website.
Alexandria Williams and Whitney Patterson started SportyAfros.com as a go-to website dedicated to connecting the dots between hair care and fitness for Black women with an active lifestyle.
Williams credits the website’s recent spike in pageviews to what she has penned as “Gabby’s Hair-Gate.”
“Ninety-nine percent of those commenting on Gabby’s hair were Black, female, “Williams said.
“With us talking about using this platform of SportAfros, this is a huge issue. This girl is working out and going for gold and you’re complaining about hair and that feeds into why a lot of these women won’t sweat. They won’t go out and work out. They won’t go do anything because they don’t want to look like Gabby.”
Sporty Afros is dedicated to breaking down the fears and ignorance that exists about black hair care and fitness. Williams said that by providing advice, how-to videos, and other resources they aim to change the high obesity statistics in the Black community. They believe that the first step to getting black women exercising is helping them no longer look at their hair as a hindrance.
“Readers can find hair care tips, YouTube videos and tutorials, actual workouts and training plans, nutrition tips and much more. We even offer haircare products to help address many of the haircare concerns in our store section,” the site founder explained.
Williams emphasizes that the information provided on the site helps eliminate the excuses.
“I think SportyAfro cancels out 80 percent of the excuses that black women consistently have and most of those are around hair. Recently, we had a swimming workout and where we showed what we did before we entered the pool, that actual workout that we were doing and some other ones people can do, and then what we did afterwards, “Williams said.
“I have emails from people and their like ‘well I can’t swim.’ I’m like I swim 3 to 4 times a week. If I’m doing it and I represent the Black woman. Why can’t you?” Williams added. “I never knew how to swim so that kills the other stereotype. I learned how to swim and I worked at it and I went to classes…There’s no reason why you can’t.”
SportyAfros is not only receiving attention from Black women, but men and women of all races and backgrounds have turned to the site for information.
“There’s been a lot of support from men. That’s been the biggest thing on the comments, white men, Asian men. Men are coming out and they are sick of it. They are tired of women coming up with ‘Oh don’t touch my hair’ or complaining about other people and their hairstyles….You gotta find solutions about it,” Williams said.
The informational website also provides information on nutrition by offering recipes for those who live a vegan lifestyle to meat lovers.
“Really our site is just giving them that great foundation to a holistic healthy life from the inside out,” Williams said.