As Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles gear up for the Olympics in Rio this summer, they made time to grace the cover of Teen Vogue’s August issue. It’s a double cover pegged Body Beautiful.
The two gymnastic champions shared how they’ve gotten through challenges as black girls in the limelight.
Who could forget how Gabby Douglas made history at the 2012 London Olympics. At 16, she became the first African American to win the the individual all-around title, then again as the first to win that honor and a team gold medal.
“It was just insane knowing that I had spent my whole life dreaming about this one specific goal and achieved it,” Gabby says about the 2012 Olympics.
She also faced controversy when internet trolls began to criticize her hair of all things while she was busy reaching legendary status.
“It was very tough. Sometimes I would be in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out, wanting to quit,” Gabby reveals. “I felt like I was all alone. But when I came through it, I felt as if I could overcome anything.”
Since then she’s come into her own.
“It took a long time for me to see my own potential — a long time,” Gabby admits. It wasn’t until just four months before the Olympic trials in 2012 that she realized what she was capable of. “Finally something clicked and I knew I could be one of the best. It was a game changer. Now I’m like, ‘I am going for this. I’m going for it all.’”
Simone Biles has also become a force. For three years in a row she’s taken home the all-around gold at the World Gymnastics Championships, making her the first female gymnast to do so. The girl also has intricate jumps named after her. Yes, she that good.
On her body image:
“I was built this way for a reason, so I’m going to use it,” Simone says. If her jumps aren’t perfect, Simone asserts with confidence, she can focus on nailing impressive air rotations powered by her strength. “To go out there and prove what I can do has taught me a lot about who I am,” she adds. “We can push ourselves further. We always have more to give.”
And like most black girls on top, she’s also had her fair share of haters. Remember when we told you how she never responded to Italian gymnast Carlotta Ferlito who said “Next time we should also paint our skin black, so we can win too,” after one of Bile’s wins in 2013? She finally addresses it in an ever classier way.
“It went viral, but it didn’t bother me one bit,” she said. “I guess I just have really tough skin. I was like, whatever.”
All we can say is: