Larry Elder

Fox's black sports columnist Jason Whitlock said: "We have a health crisis in the African-American community, and it's particularly acute with African-American women, and some of it is related to their hair. They're afraid to exercise because they don't want to sweat and hurt their hair. ... It's a $9 billion industry, straightening out our hair."

Dawes said: "It's what we call the 'creamy crack' (straightening out our hair). ... A number of women will not work out, because they don't want to sweat that perm out. They spent so much money. Nowadays, it's about $120-plus to get your hair relaxed. ... They don't want to sweat their hair out, so they're not going to work out, and they're not going to jump in the pool. And it's a shame because it really is costing us African-American women our health."

By the way, if it is true that some black women have insecurity on the issue of hair, they do not suffer a lack of self-esteem because of it. Studies show that black girls have higher self-esteem than white girls, in part because they are more confident about their bodies. White girls, on the other hand, reported more insecurity about their figures. White girls are more likely than black girls, for example, to hold up the Barbie doll body type as the ideal. Black girls were comfortable with varied, heavier body types.

And what Americans define as a pretty face differs from past standards of "white" beauty. A UCLA professor studied the faces of models during the last five decades of the 20th century. He found: "Today in American society the African-American female does not have to display Caucasian-like features in order to be considered beautiful. African-American models displayed fuller lips than the Caucasian models, who showed fuller lips than the average Caucasian. It now appears that the non-Caucasian face with fuller lips is now viewed more beautiful than the traditional thin-lipped Caucasian."

Gabby appears to be holding up quite well to the criticism. Gabby's mother described her daughter's reaction when she learned of the snarky tweets: "'Really?! I won two gold medals and made history, and my hair is trending?' So we laughed about it."

Now then, Gabby hair haters, think about this. In calling Gabby's hair "ratch," are you dissuading young blacks from protecting themselves by exercising or learning how to swim?

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit