What’s Up with the Bad Gymnast Hair?

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love gymnastics. I took classes starting at age 4; I competed through high school; and I plan my schedule around when competitions are on TV. I even have “my spot” at Wells Fargo Arena where I always sit to watch the ASU gymnastics home meets. It’s a fantastic sports that combines dynamics and grace in such a beautiful way.

Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr
Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr

Here’s what I don’t get: over the last 4-5 years, girls’ hair has gotten really messy. When I was competing, our hair had to be pulled back tight and if we had any wispies, they had to be pulled out of the way with gel, clips, or both. Now a lot of girls are doing a ponytail where they pull it up but then pull it through halfway again. This style can look good, but now the way these girls are doing it. It looks like they rolled out of bed, whipped their hair up really quick, and then forgot to do it for the competition.

At the Secret U.S. Challenge over the weekend, some of the girls had hair that looked ridiculous. You could tell some of them had really long hair – too long just to put in a ponytail. They should have braided it and folded it under or put it in bun but instead they had these knots on top of their heads or looked like they had some type of weird horse-inspired hairstyle. Some of them were really bad. (I’m not going to name names because these are children, but you know who you are.)

I understand why a teen would want to do this, but I don’t understand why the coaches let them get away with it. My coaches never did. At one meet my coach thought my bangs were too long and she cut them right then and there. At the national championships one year, one of my teammates’ ponytails was a bit too long and my coach cut her hair in the hotel room.

I don’t get it. This is a sport based on giving a flawless performance. These girls spend thousands of hours over the course of years perfecting their skills. On competition day these girls wear beautiful leotards and have perfect makeup. Why would they neglect their hair? Judges have discretion to take off points for “general impression.” If I were a judge and a girl had a sloppy appearance, I’d dock them for it.

This is not the first time I’ve jumped on this soapbox. As one of “The Gays in Row 16,” this is one of my biggest pet peeves at ASU gymnastics meets. Those girls are beautiful, talented, and improved so much in the last few years, but they are notorious for having sloppy hair. Some of them look like they got up that morning, mindless threw up their hair in a rubber band, got mauled by a bear on their way to school, and then competed that night. I would send the team a gift basket of gel and maximum hold hairspray if I thought they’d use it.

I hope the slobbification of USA Gymnastics ends soon. The US Gymnastics Championships is coming up in a few weeks and I hope the powers that be require the girls to have a flawless appearance from head-to-toe. The girls are too good to look so bad.

This is how Gymnasts' Hair Should Look - Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr
This is how Gymnasts’ Hair Should Look – Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr

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