Simone Biles’ Decision To Pull Out of Olympics Speaks To Black Women Across The Globe

Simone Biles Pulls Out Of Olympic Individual All-Around Competition A Day After Sitting Out of Team Finals Due To Mental Health Reasons

Every Black woman and girl reading this, should take a deep breath. Feel it. Let the air fill your lungs and allow your brain to focus solely on what you need as you exhale. When is the last time you’ve been able to do that without thoughts of guilt flooding your mind? July 27th of 2021, Simone Biles sounded off a reminder to every Black woman around the world. After deciding to sit out of the Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals at the 2021 Olympics, Biles removed herself from the Individual All-Around Competition as well. Her choice was a shock to everyone but also forced spectators and supporters to reflect on the pressure we have placed on her.

“It’s ok sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are, rather than just battle through it,” Biles said in an interview following her team’s silver medal win. Whether you are a competitor or not, her statement challenged the idea of tying self worth to awards, titles, and accomplishments.

Simone Biles is undoubtedly the best gymnast in the world. With 4 skills named after her, 36 medals and counting, and evident determination and work ethic, she continues to fly above the precedent and defy odds. While her career has brought her a lot of success, Biles has shared some of her darkest moments in front of the world. As her name became more known across the nation, so did her family dynamic, forcing her to explain how her grandparents became her legal guardians. Following the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles and her teammates spoke out about the sexual assault they experienced by then US Gymnastics team doctor. As she brought her talents to Dancing With The Stars, the scrutiny followed her when she was criticized for not smiling. Something Black girls hear far too often. All of these things have pushed her to the forefront of sensitive topics and discussions and she has handled each step with grace and allowed her talent to speak for itself.

Although she has proven herself to the imaginary standard we tend to place on ourselves and others, Simone Biles’ recent decision faced extreme backlash from people around the world. When she revealed she would sit out of both competitions due to her mental health, a lot of people responded selfishly. Some felt she owed it to the country, women, her team, and even us to sweep the competition and bring back as many gold medals as she can get her hands on. People questioned her work ethic, values, and sincerity but why? The audacity to think she owes us anything. An explanation, her time, a piece of metal attached to a ribbon, shouldn’t be expected.

Among all of her accolades, Biles was never awarded the luxury of resting; no Black woman ever has. A group constantly expected to be everyone’s savior is the same group ridiculed when they make the choice to save themselves. It is important to understand that we will never be anyone’s champion if we aren’t champions for ourselves first. While sharing her thought process behind pulling out of Olympic All-Around competition, Biles expressed that she felt like she had the “weight of the world” on her shoulders. Despite competing with broken bones and immense pressure for years, Biles decided to be her own hero for the first time in her career and still managed to leave a huge impact. It shifts the narrative and allows her peers and community to challenge what we accept and take on. Black women deserve a break. Black women deserve to rest. Black women deserve to be their first priority. Black women deserve to breathe; regardless of the world’s expectation of them.

We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.
-Malcolm X

About the Author

Toree Weaver

Toree Weaver is an AfterBuzz TV host with a passion for glamour and kingdoms. When she isn't modeling or dancing, she can be found binge watching shows from Gossip Girl to Game of Thrones.