Simone Biles responds to wedding hairstyle criticism after tying the knot with Jonathan Owens

Seven-time Olympic medalist tied the knot with NFL star Jonathan Owens during intimate courthouse ceremony

Meredith Clark
New York
Monday 24 April 2023 21:44 BST

Simone Biles celebrates engagement to NFL boyfriend Jonathan Owens

Simone Biles has called out haters for criticising her hair after sharing photos of her wedding to NFL star Jonathan Owens.

The Olympic athlete, 26, and the Houston Texans player, 27, tied the knot during an intimate courthouse wedding on Saturday 22 April. The nuptials are one of two wedding ceremonies for the couple, who will be sharing their vows in front of friends and family at their upcoming destination wedding.

Biles announced she and Owens were married in an Instagram post on Saturday. “I do,” she captioned the post, which included a series of loved-up photos of the couple at the Houston-based courthouse. “Officially Owens”.

The seven-time Olympic medalist was seen wearing tiered floor-length white gown from online boutique Selfie Leslie, which retails at just $119. The dress also features a plunging neckline and criss-cross back detail. Meanwhile, Owens sported a tan suit for the occasion as he shared a similar series of photos from their courthouse wedding to Instagram. “My person, forever,” he wrote.

Despite their happy nuptials, online trolls still found a way to criticise Biles for the sweet photos she shared from her wedding day – most notably, for her hair. The 25-time world championship winner sported a sleek high ponytail for her wedding, a casual hairstyle to match their low-maintenance ceremony. However, critics shamed Biles for sporting her ponytail, despite an ongoing movement encouraging Black women to embrace their natural hair texture.

“Simone Biles is one of THEE top gymnasts we’ve ever seen, has overcame situations of abuse and other obstacles in her childhood, has defined her own success and found love and is now happily married,” tweeted internet personality Cindy Noir on 23 April. “And y’all worried about her hair…..?!”

In Biles’ response to the tweet, it appeared that she had come across some of the negative comments on social media. “i think they also forget i live in HOUSTON TEXAS & I sweat those out!! soon as we stepped outside for pics…but they can keep complaining idc idc idc,” she wrote back.

Meanwhile, fans rushed to congratulate Biles on her wedding and called out some of the haters on Twitter. “It’s insane. #SimoneBiles looked absolutely gorgeous on her wedding day and so happy,” said one fan. “I’m so happy for her and wish her and her husband all the happiness in the world. I hope she ignores the jealous haters.”

“A woman that has a gymnastics move named after her and they worried about hair,” another pointed out.

“I saw those pics of Simone Biles and my first thought was, ‘Aww she looks so happy,’” said someone else. “The fact y’all zoomed in on her edges and hair is so miserable.”

One Twitter user also pointed out that fellow Team USA gymnast Gabby Douglas experienced similar criticism for sporting her natural hair when she won gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Nearly eight years later, Douglas opened up about the damage her hair suffered as a result of doing gymnastics.

“They tried this s*** with Gabby Douglas and now Simone Biles. It sounds like self-hate and anti-Blackness to me,” they wrote. “Folks think textured hair is bad, and Black women’s hair should be super straight with no kinks or curls. Simone Biles’s hair is fine. Let Black girls live.”

In 2019, California became the first state in the United States to ban the racial discrimination of natural hair in the workplace and in schools. The Senate Bill 188, otherwise known as the "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair" Act (The Crown Act) was passed by a unanimous vote in the California State Senate and signed into law on 3 July 2019.

Shortly after, New York became the second US state to ban racial discrimination of natural hair when former governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new amendment to the Human Rights Law and Dignity for All Students Act in the Empire State.

Jonathan Owens proposed to Simone Biles on Valentine’s Day in 2022, almost two years after the pair met on celebrity dating app Raya in March 2020. “THE EASIEST YES,” Biles captioned her engagement announcement Instagram. “I can’t wait to spend forever & ever with you, you’re everything I dreamed of and more! let’s get married FIANCÉ.”

Ahead of their wedding, Biles shared a picture of the couple posing with their signed marriage license, which was issued in Montgomery County, Texas. “Almost time to say ‘I do,’” she captioned the post.

In an interview with Today host Hoda Kotb in January 2021, Biles recalled how easy it was to fall in love with Owens because their “personalities match right up”.

“Our personalities match right up. We have the same sense of humour. And he’s just great,” she said. “He’s an athlete, too, so we really understand each other and I think that’s why our relationship has been seamless.”

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