Gabby Douglas can vault over the vitriol

Ronnie Polaneczky, STAFF COLUMNIST

Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2016, 9:58 AM

U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas competes in the qualifiers for the women's vault event of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 7, 2016.

Hey there, Gabby Douglas.

I know you're busy winding things down in Rio, where the U.S. women's gymnastics team has dazzled the world. But if you have a sec, I'd like to introduce you to Ronnie's Law of Inverse Evidence, which I hope gives you new appreciation for your haters.

But first, three anecdotes.

The first is about a woman I know with breast cancer who is excited that chemo has made her hair fall out. She sees her baldness as evidence that the medicine is doing its important work, which is to kill the cancer cells that are trying to kill her.

She's so excited, she never wears the wig she bought to cover her head.

"I love how I look bald," she said. "Tough, like GI Jane. I feel like a warrior inside. Now I look like one on the outside, too."

The second is about a friend who, after several disappointing relationships, gave up on love even though she'd always wanted to share her life with a great guy.

Then she met one, got married, and had some tough discussions with him as they did the hard work of committed, adult love.

She would call me, vent, and then say proudly, "Look at me, having husband issues!"

The third story is about a woman I know who, before becoming a mom, had three miscarriages. When she became pregnant for the fourth time, those prior losses changed her experience of being, finally, in a healthy pregnancy.

Every time she puked, she was like, "Yes! I'm still pregnant!" The swollen ankles, the third-trimester heartburn, the glistening stretch marks on her once-flat belly were all proof that she was carrying a child to term.

In each case, these women were able to see that their discomfort, physical or emotional, was evidence of something good: The possibility of remission, the satisfaction of a solid partnership, the promise of motherhood.

I share these anecdotes with you because you've been in the middle of a blistering crap-storm of criticism from online strangers using needle-nose pliers to viciously pick you apart.

You didn't leap to your feet when teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman nabbed gold and silver medals in the all-around final. The trolls dubbed you jealous and christened you "Crabby Gabby."

You didn't hold your hand over your heart as the national anthem played during your team's gold-medal ceremony. Which apparently makes you an ISIS sympathizer.

This comes on the heels of your penchant for sweating during your feats of strength, which can muck with your hair.

Critics had fun with that during the 2012 Olympics, when you snagged a gold medal for your all-around awesomeness on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise.

But the bozos noticed only your hair.

What this means, according to Ronnie's Law of Inverse Evidence (which I just invented), is that things are going great for you.

The way they did for that woman with cancer, and the newlywed, and the first-time mom.

There's nothing some people hate more than a young woman who, before the age of 21, has done more with her God-given talent than they'll ever do with theirs (presuming they have some).

So, the more they snipe, trust me, the better you're doing.

They don't have the grit to power through a grueling workout the way you do when your muscles are bruised and throbbing. They don't have the courage to go for what they want because fear keeps them from ever trying. They don't have your work ethic, focus, or drive.

So they lay on the sofa, tap out a nasty tweet, and smile when it gets to you, the way it did when reporters badgered you for a reaction to the haters.

Remember this, though: If you'd never had the guts to push yourself into a global arena and dazzle us with your athleticism, they'd never know you exist. None of us would.

So look at all the snarking and whining as evidence of something very, very good: You've made it to the Olympics twice and medaled both times.

That kind of perfection can really incite the weirdos. Case in point:

Last week on a Fox News show called Sports Court, middle-aged commentators Mark Simone and Bo Dietl said they were repulsed by Olympians with acne or imperfect skin. They thought the gals should use a little makeup.

Because - did you know this? - the Olympics are not about athletic prowess.

"The whole point of the Olympics, the whole reason for this training, for this work to get there, is product endorsements," sniffed Simone, a baggy-faced man with adolescent bangs who needs either to fire his barber or buy himself a better hairpiece.

"Why should you have to look at some chick's zits?" asked Dietl, a balding gasbag with a gut and a wiry-looking five o'clock shadow some prankster must've told him looked hip. "Why not a little blush on her lips?"

Their comments filled me with joy, Gabby. Because when men who look like bridge trolls expound on the ways women like you should improve themselves for men, it means only one thing:

The women they're critiquing have broken free of gravity and now breathe the rare air of accomplishment. So the haters issue hilarious critiques in the hope of leveling the field, not realizing it can't be leveled by their envy.

The more powerful the women get, the more pitifully transparent the losers become.

So don't sweat them, you strong, fierce, fabulous Olympian.

Thank them for providing you with evidence, all over again, of just how great you're doing.

215-854-2217 @RonniePhilly

Ronnie Polaneczky, STAFF COLUMNIST

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