Team USA gymnasts Gabby Douglas & Simone Biles cover Teen Vogue: amazing?

gabby cover

Here in America, we’re pinning all of our Olympic-gold dreams on two gymnasts, Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles. Simone and Gabby got dual covers for the August issue of Teen Vogue, which I LOVE. I love that Teen Vogue put gymnasts on their covers and I love that these two extraordinary, inspirational African-American women are being highlighted. Just from reading Teen Vogue’s coverage, it seems like Gabby (the reigning gold medalist in individual all-around) and Simone are each other’s biggest competition at the games. Gabby is already a well-known figure – at the London Olympics, she was called “the Flying Squirrel” for how gracefully she flew through the air and how she would always stick the landing. Gabby is 20 years old now, and Simone is 19 and she’s winning everything these days. You can read Simone’s profile here, and you can read Gabby’s profile here. Here are some highlights from Gabby’s piece:

Gabby still doesn’t understand her fame: “I literally never thought I would ever have so many people behind me. It’s so special. I feel like I’m one of theirs, you know? Sometimes I’m like, why are all those people taking pictures of that wall? And then I realize I am standing in front of it.”

Becoming the first woman of color to win the gymnastics individual all-around gold medal: “It was just insane knowing that I had spent my whole life dreaming about this one specific goal and achieved it,” Gabby recalls. Come Rio, she is determined to make history again, as the first gymnast to successfully defend her all-around gold medal since 1968.

Dealing with online criticism of her body & hair: “It was very tough. Sometimes I would be in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out, wanting to quit. I felt like I was all alone. But when I came through it, I felt as if I could overcome anything.”

Whether she’ll win gold again: “I guess when you’ve been there, you’re like, ‘Yeah, but can you do it again?’ I love the challenge. I love to push limits. I feel like I haven’t reached my full potential yet.”

[From Teen Vogue]

Gabby comes across as very grounded, driven and authentic here. I think she’s really like that in real life too. What bothers me about Olympic-level gymnastics is the concern that these young teenage girls are being put through these extraordinary pressures, pressures that will warp them for life. But I honestly believe – against all odds, perhaps – that it’s gotten better over the years, that these young women are driven, that they are putting the pressure on themselves, that this is what they truly want. I believe that about Gabby and Simone both – that this is what they want, and they can handle the insane amount of pressure they’re under. I hope so.

simone cover


Photos courtesy of Teen Vogue.

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61 Responses to “Team USA gymnasts Gabby Douglas & Simone Biles cover Teen Vogue: amazing?”

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  1. Twodollars says:

    Gorgeous photos. Still surprised to see Simone Biles without a smile though. She’s always smiling.

    I feel for Gabby Douglas. She gets such an unreasonable amount of hate online and doesn’t have the best support system with her family IMO.

    The Olympic Trials are on NBC tonight. I am hoping Gabby has an amazing night and can finish a clean 2nd. Simone is so far ahead of the pack that everyone else is just competing for 2nd. There is a lot of pressure to give the 2nd AA spot in the Olympics to someone other than Gabby. I hope she can hit tonight and prove that she deserves that 2nd AA spot.

    • La Ti Da says:

      Who is behind the pressure to replace Gabby? And why? That really surprises me.

      • Twodollars says:

        Lots of the gym world wants another gymnast to compete AA over Gabby. She has faced a lot of criticism in the gym world from commentators, experts, other coaches, competitors, etc. ever since she made the AA finals in London Olympics. Bunch of silliness. Gabby won in London fair and square and should be competing AA in Rio. I hope it happens.

    • Sarah says:

      The photos are beautiful – strong, fearless young women!

      • Fee says:

        That is who young teens should look up to, that is who theses mags like teen vogue should have on their covers instead of the Jenners etc… These young women inspire us, they are educated, work hard and deserve it.

    • Neners says:

      The only gymnast that I could’ve seen replacing Gabby is Maggie Nichols, but with her coming off of an injury, I really don’t see it happening. I love Gabby and I hope she does well! She’s been a tad shaky the last two competitions, but she usually turns it up a notch when more is on the line :)

    • Pinky says:

      They are pure grace, beauty, and power. Very excited for this and them!


  2. HH says:

    I remember the criticism of her hair and just being dumbfounded. Particularly because it was coming from the Black community. And then having the same emotions when people criticized Blue Ivy’s hair. We are so used to seeing ourselves through a lens of respectability that I don’t think we know what “Blackness” looks like. By that, I mean all the variations of us. We get uncomfortable when it doesn’t fit into a neat, respectable image.

    • mary s says:

      I don’t follow gymnastics, but I remember there was something about her hair. I don’t remember what it was, though. She’s a beautiful young woman, and her hair looks coolio in those photos. I love the cover look, the single braid over the twist is so creative and beautiful. It’s interesting what you wrote about the defined look of “Blackness”. My daughter is black I’m white, and I don’t have a deep knowledge of what “blackness” *should* look like. So we just kind of do what we think is best. She loves being a black girl though, she’s very proud of that, and I believe that in itself is a great foundation. She also loves seeing other black girls succeed, and we will be sure to watch these two amazing athletes.

  3. lisa2 says:

    double post.

    can’t wait to see the trials. The USA will have an amazing team.

  4. La Ti Da says:

    Very cool, I’m excited to watch these two and team USA perform. I wonder if Gabby will keep her hair long going into the competition though. If I’m remembering correctly almost all Olympic gymnasts have rather short manageable hair, right?

  5. Missy says:

    These two young women are great role models. I especially loved the bit where Serena Williams helped Gabby love her muscular body.

    I almost didn’t recognize Gabby in her photographs, though. Is the lighting weird or did Teen Vogue lighten their skin? I really hope it’s not the latter.

    • LisaH says:

      Agreed, these young women are wonderful role models.

      I don’t think they’ve lightened Gabby’s skin, I think she looks different because she’s matured so much over the past 4 years.

    • Sisi says:

      flash photography probably makes the difference (in comparison to video, what we’re used to seeing gymnasts through)

    • M.A.F. says:

      @Missy- I didn’t recognize her either but she is 20 this time around not 16 like in 2012.

  6. ReineDidon says:

    Good for Teen Vogue for highlighting these amazing teenagers whom are actually worth admiring.
    I don’t see any problem with Gabby’s hair. It’s like Serena’s nipple, un faux probleme.

    • Locke Lamora says:

      Do they usually put people on the cover who are not worth admiring? I don’t follow gymnastics nor Seventeen magazine, and while I’m sure these girls are extraordinary, I don’t think sport is more important than acting or singing.

      • Bridget says:

        Depends. Do you particularly admire Kardashian/Jenner/Hadid young women?

      • teacakes says:

        @Bridget – the irony is that the Kardashian/Jenners actually have an Olympic gold medallist in the family but of course not one of them ever thinks of even trying to emulate Caitlyn’s achievement, and nor do they have any value for anything that isn’t a paid shill.

      • Locke Lamora says:

        No, but I’m sure they’re not the only ones on covers. Surely some actresses and singers were there too?

  7. Bex says:

    They look great! Simone Biles is otherworldly. She is so so good. She does as her third pass in her floor routine a tumble most others can’t do as their opening run and does it flawlessly.

    Gabby’s done an amazing job just getting back to this point- it’s pretty rare for an Olympic gymnast to get through another cycle (though a lot of competitors are skewing older now which is great). She’ll have competition for the 2nd AA spot from Raisman and Hernandez, but I think she’ll get it because she really knows how to turn it up when the lights come on.

    • Neners says:

      “She does as her third pass in her floor routine a tumble most others can’t do as their opening run and does it flawlessly.”

      ^^^OMG THIS! She has so much power and her technique is perfection. I just – ugh. She makes my gymnastics heart flutter, especially on FX and vault. Her Amanar and Cheng are to die for!

    • lucy2 says:

      I usually only watch gymnastics at the Olympics, but I happened to catch the qualifying round recently. Simone’s floor routing was astounding – the height she achieved was amazing, and it just looked effortless.

      I was very happy to see that Gabby is still competing, I was so happy for her in 2012, what an achievement. Whatever happens in Rio, she’s a champion, but I hope she gets to add more to it.

  8. Gardenia says:

    Awesome women. I can’t wait to see them in Rio! I wish them both the best.

  9. nelly says:

    wow gabby looks lile azealia banks now that she has bleached her skin

    • Twodollars says:

      Her skin is the same color it has always been. Not sure if the lighting is weird on the photos or what but if you see her during competition or in interviews you can tell her skin is the same color.

    • swak says:

      Why would you say that without any proof? You can’t assume something like that.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Sigh, went straight for the negative didn’t you?

      Here’s your hater-of-the-day award.

    • HH says:

      Everyone, I believe the OP meant now that Azealia Banks has bleached her skin. Which she has openly admitted and defended.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        If that’s true then I apologize and what??? Ms. Come
        For everyone else and accuse them of being racist while being absolutely hateful herself has advocated for skin bleaching???

        I’m too done today, I need a break.

  10. Lucy says:

    Beautiful, inspiring girls!! Love what Gabby says, too!!

  11. Nicole says:

    Awesome to highlight two black girls on a major teen mag. Representation matters :)

  12. Tiffany says:

    Good Lord, I envy their bodies. They are almost like a marble statue.

    • Chewbacca says:

      I know!! So so jelly of these strong ladies, they work their asses off and it shows!

  13. Thaisajs says:

    Love them both. Can’t wait to watch them do their thing at the Olympics (which I’m otherwise not watching).

  14. Chetta B. says:

    Oh my goodness. So much muscle. I love these photos. I’m a fan of both.

  15. Robin says:

    They both deserve the covers and I hope they kick butt at the Olympics. Gymnastics will be much better off when the Karolyis are both gone, however.

  16. Neners says:

    I am a HUGE gymnastics fan and I’ve been following this quad closely. I’m so impressed with the comebacks both Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman have made. Aly, in particular, looks better than she did in 2012. As far as Simone Biles goes, remember her name. She is a phenom. One of the most dominant gymnasts I have ever seen. It’s not just her insane difficulty, it’s that her execution is off the charts! Also, keep an eye out for Laurie Hernandez. Her floor routine gives me life. Anyways, let me stop. I could literally go on for hours. Can’t wait to see what all of these girls do in Rio!

    • Twodollars says:

      I am huge gymnastics fan too and until Nationals I was much more impressed with Gabby’s comeback. But, Aly finally looked consistent at Nationals.

      I think Laurie Hernandez might be my 2nd favorite of the 2016 team though (no one tops Biles). Laurie is awesome on floor. Just love her.

      • Neners says:

        I adore Laurie! I was very interested to see which of the new seniors would blossom and come into their own on the big stage, and I’m so thrilled that it’s been her. She has so much personality and her lines are beautiful. That toe-point!

        I completely agree about Gabby and Aly, as well. Gabby was fantastic at Worlds. Aly looked dicey. Now they’ve flip-flopped a bit. That 2nd AA spot is going to be interesting. Gabby’s bars are lightyears better than Aly’s, but Aly has an Amanar on vault where Gabby is only competing a DTY. And also, Aly is stronger on FX. So we’ll see how it goes!

  17. megs283 says:

    Last weekend I was reading Seventeen (don’t ask), and I was excited to see a spread on Olympic gymnasts. Then I realized that it was all about their BEAUTY tips. Beauty tips have their place…but that’s like meeting the Pope and asking him about his preferred breakfast. I’m glad it looks like Vogue focused on their hard work and intense commitment to their sport.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Yeah that is a bit of a bummer, Seventeen should have taken the time to really give the spread focus on how hard these girls work, their community and charity outreach, and their influence on other young girls.

      Like you said – time and place.

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s terrible – there are so many things they could have asked them, these young women are doing the near impossible to compete at that level. Who cares about beauty tips?!

  18. Jenna's Snark says:

    Aly Raisman will be there right? Her floor routines are amazing. Im excited to see her and Gabby to see how different they are four years later. Still sad about Jordan but I’m glad she had the dignity to retire. Excited to see Simone as well, I’ve been hearing a lot of positives but remember last Olympics Gabby was not favored to win. Jordan was the all around favorite so you never know maybe there will be an upset. Either way go team USA!

  19. Tiffany :) says:

    I have totally been out of the loop on gymnastics, but these photos are beautiful! I’m looking forward to seeing them perform.

  20. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Such strong amazing girls and you can see the power in their bodies even from the photos! Can’t wait to see them dominate!

  21. KatMc says:

    Wow, this is great! I would take these two over Taylor Swift any day! They look great and we should all be proud of their accomplishments…can’t wait to see them in Rio!

  22. Spikey says:

    I know this discussion is basically done for today, but I just have to put it out there.

    WTF?? People criticised Gabby for her *hair*?? What is wrong with this world?

    I love love love Gabby! At the ripe age of 35 I was inspired by her awesomeness in 2012 and started gymnastics. She is such a good ambassador for her sport! We should build monuments and temples for her, not criticise her effing hair! Come on, what is this?

  23. NeoCleo says:

    So beautiful and so strong!!!

  24. Merritt says:

    I think the US will have an amazing team for the games. Based on Nationals I think the team with be Simone, Aly, Gabby, Laurie and either Ashton or Madison. If Maggie wasn’t coming back from injury I would have her in the mix but I think she may have come back too soon.

  25. trishy says:


    These women look so confident and strong! (And they also look healthy enough to still get their periods. Which is refreshing.)

  26. teacakes says:

    I remember Gabby Douglas winning her medals in 2012, she was incredible and I’m so happy she’s going to Rio (also remember the complaints about her hair, which feels even worse when you know she was actually exposed to it).

    These are the kind of girls Vogue should be putting on their covers – you can’t deny the sheer amount of hard work and talent it takes to achieve what they have.

  27. Bread and Circuses says:

    AWESOME! So often, magazines succumb to the pressure to make women who are famous for their talent look like fashion minxes instead of athletes/actors/politicians/etc.

    Look how amazing these two look! You don’t need to tell them to channel Kate Moss to get a good photo; they are riveting on their own terms.

  28. Dangles says:

    These Olympics are gonna suck for a variety of reasons. I’m feeling zero excitement about them.

  29. Kate says:

    These two are amazing role models! great choice for the cover

  30. Veronica says:

    I used to have concerns about gymnastic pressure on young girls. Then I realized that young women are unfairly pressured about their bodies regardless of age or circumstance, so why be concerned about competitive athletics?

  31. Truthie says:

    I love these photos but I want them on Vogue, not just Teen Vogue! Anna Wintour please! And how about the Met Gala, since they have missed proms and homecomings and countless other occasions to focus on training.

  32. Megan says:

    Simone biles is my girl. Texas born and bred, absolutely slaying and breaking world records left and right, she’s the best gymnast we’ve seen in 50 years. In every competition she participates in, she outstrips the silver medalist by entire points. She’ll talk all around gold at rio, I have no doubt.

    Gabby Douglas has had a crazy season. She’s been really inconsistent and has had some pretty major problems with her routines, even on bars which is her best event. She’ll make the Rio team for sure, because Marta Karoli likes her, and she might even be team captain since she has experience and seniority, but I hope for her sake that she’s able to show some consistency, because if she doesn’t get it together she may not medal.