Gabby Douglas is opening up about all the hair damage she suffered as a result of doing gymnastics.

The Olympic athlete, 24, shared a photo of herself with her natural hair and talked about the emotional journey she’s been on with her hair over the past several years.

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from the heart from a very young age i always had to put my hair in a tight ponytail to do gymnastics and due to that my hair became completely damaged. i had bald spots on the back of my head. i was so embarrassed and self-conscious that i put a bunch of clips over the spots to try and cover them up, but it was still noticeable. my hair grew a little, but shortly after, i had to cut all of my hair off because it was so damaged. i cried and cried and cried. most days i didn’t even want to go to the gym because i felt so embarrassed that all my hair was gone. i used to think: why can’t i have healthy hair? despite yet another challenge, i kept going. fast forward to the both olympics and my hair was the topic of conversation 🥺 now here i am today – no extensions – no clip-ins – no wigs – no chemicals – all me. 💕

A post shared by Gabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas) on

from the heart from a very young age i always had to put my hair in a tight ponytail to do gymnastics and due to that my hair became completely damaged. i had bald spots on the back of my head. i was so embarrassed and self-conscious that i put a bunch of clips over the spots to try and cover them up, but it was still noticeable. my hair grew a little, but shortly after, i had to cut all of my hair off because it was so damaged. i cried and cried and cried. most days i didn’t even want to go to the gym because i felt so embarrassed that all my hair was gone. i used to think: why can’t i have healthy hair? despite yet another challenge, i kept going. fast forward to the both olympics and my hair was the topic of conversation 🥺 now here i am today – no extensions – no clip-ins – no wigs – no chemicals – all me. 💕

A post shared byGabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas) on

“From the heart,” she began her candid Instagram post. “From a very young age i always had to put my hair in a tight ponytail to do gymnastics and due to that my hair became completely damaged. i had bald spots on the back of my head. i was so embarrassed and self-conscious that i put a bunch of clips over the spots to try and cover them up, but it was still noticeable. My hair grew a little, but shortly after, i had to cut all of my hair off because it was so damaged.”

Douglas said she “cried and cried and cried” about her struggles with her hair and also talked about how hard it was when people criticized her hair during the Olympics instead of focusing on her athletic abilities.

“Most days i didn’t even want to go to the gym because i felt so embarrassed that all my hair was gone,” she wrote. “i used to think: why can’t i have healthy hair? despite yet another challenge, i kept going. fast forward to the both olympics and my hair was the topic of conversation 🥺.”

She finished her post with a message of pride about her natural hair today.

“Now here i am today – no extensions – no clip-ins – no wigs – no chemicals – all me,” she wrote.

During the 2012 Olympics, some online trolls apparently criticized the appearance of Douglas’ hair and said the gold medalist’s strands were “unkept” or “embarrassing.”

Fans in the comments of her recent post were quick to defend Douglas and praised her bravery and vulnerability in talking about what she’s been through.

“It was so upsetting that the focus became your hair and not the gift that you are,” one person commented on her post. “I’m glad that you were able to find something that worked for you. Your hair is beautiful – long, short or with patches.”

“Baby you were born to be a star!” another person wrote. “Hair crowns your head but your light and talent come from within! Long hair, short hair, damaged hair, you still come from royalty and are an example for ALL little brown princesses around the world!”

In a follow-up Instagram post, Douglas thanked fans for their support.

first off i just want to say that i’ve been reading your comments on my last post and i want to thank you for all of your kind & supportive words. it really means a lot. it’s not easy opening up and being true and vulnerable about certain things, especially in this day and age. not gonna lie… you guys can be BRUTAL lol. but in that, i have developed thick skin.i am forever grateful to have this platform to inspire and encourage u all. hopefully one day i will have the courage to share my FULL story with you. nothing but love for u on my side. hope u all had a great week.x

A post shared byGabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas) on

“First off i just want to say that i’ve been reading your comments on my last post and i want to thank you for all of your kind & supportive words,” she captioned a photo of herself sporting long, blond strands. “It really means a lot. it’s not easy opening up and being true and vulnerable about certain things, especially in this day and age. not gonna lie… you guys can be BRUTAL lol. but in that, i have developed thick skin.

“i am forever grateful to have this platform to inspire and encourage u all,” she continued. “hopefully one day i will have the courage to share my FULL story with you. nothing but love for u on my side.”

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