Gabby Douglas, the first woman of color in Olympic history to win an individual all-around competition, was once reportedly asked to get a nose job and called a slave in the gym where she trained.
Douglas, 16, recently conducted an interview with Vanity Fair magazine and shared her encounters with racism while training for the Olympics. Douglas recalled one incident years ago when she was told to get a nose job and called a slave at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach.
According to Douglas, someone in the gym also stole her clothes from the locker room where she changed, but she knew better than to think it was a mistake.
"You don't actually take by mistake someone's clothes," Douglas said in the October issue of Vanity Fair.
The gymnast also recalled another incident in which other gymnasts were resistant to scrape excess chalk from the uneven bars because they felt she should do it.
"Why doesn't Gabby do it? She's our slave," Douglas recalled the other gymnasts saying.
Although the 16-year-old gold medalist said the comments about her being a slave and needing a nose job were "very hurtful," she has also had to combat negativity about her hair while participating in the Olympic games recently. Dominique Dawes, a member of the gold medal winning "magnificent seven" gymnastics team in the 1996 Olympic Games, also defended her fellow African-American gymnast.
"As an athlete you're not focused on your appearance or you're not going to make those historic achievements that your daughter was able to make," Dawes said while interviewing Douglas' mother after her win.
However, Douglas also stood up for herself in a USA Today report.
"Are you kidding me? I just made history? And you're focusing on my hair," Douglas questioned at the time. "I just want to say we're all beautiful inside out. Nothing is going to change."