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Surgeon General Wrong re Black Women hair/exercise

Coffee

Well-Known Member
Black women can’t catch a break.
Lately, they’ve been criticized for everything from wearing weaves to weighing more than other racial groups.
Now, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, a black woman, is chiming in about the reason behind the higher obesity rates.
Benjamin, who has been criticized for being overweight herself, recently told the New York Times: “Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet.’ I hate to use the word ‘excuse’ but that’s one of them.”
Benjamin’s insight on this topic is considered credible because her mother was a hairstylist. Also, she is backed up by a study done by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2008. The study polled 103 black women in the North Carolina region and found that a third of them mentioned their hair as the reason they shied away from exercise.
Sixty-four of the women had relaxed hair, and half of the participants stated that “they considered changing their hair to make it easier to exercise,” according to a press release detailing the study’s findings.
Hair was definitely a consideration when I was in high school, but I can’t blame my hairstyle for preventing me from developing a regular exercise routine later on in life.
I just never got it until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, I lay awake night after night regretting every cigarette I had smoked; every cocktail I’d drunk; and every health club membership I had let expire without so much as stepping a foot inside the place after the orientation.
None of this had anything to do with my hair.
In fact, the unruly hair excuse has played out. Today, black women have a lot more alternatives when it comes to maintaining a straight hairstyle. They no longer have to smother their hair with grease and torture it with a hot comb to beat back frizzy or puffy hair.
Because of the widespread acceptance of weaves, extensions and wigs, black women don’t have to deal with their natural hair at all.
When I went for my regular hair appointment on Wednesday, I asked a couple of stylists what they thought.
“I believe it’s true,” said Anna Walton, a stylist at Red Karma Salon at 3523 S. Indiana.
“What happens is clients ask what can they do to prevent their hair from looking a mess. But you can’t prevent your body from sweating,” Walton pointed out.
“I tell them you are either going to be cute and fat or you are going to be slim and you may look a little crazy about the head.”
Lucretia London, also at Red Karma, styles my natural hair. She isn’t convinced that relaxers and other high-maintenance hairstyles are the reason black women are skipping workouts.
“There are still a lot of women with natural hair that are obese,” she told me. “But there are also women who cut their hair off so they can run and swim and do other vigorous exercise.”
London, who works out two to three times a week, wears her own hair in a curly natural style.
“I just think we have a lot of ancestral baggage. We are still broke down from all the things that have happened to us,” she said.
When Benjamin was chosen to stand as the surgeon general, she was ridiculed for being, well, big boned. The extra poundage made her a favorite target of conservative bashers. I’m not joining that chorus, but I think she did a disservice to black women because the hair excuse makes black women look ridiculously shallow.
Yes, there are women whose self-esteem is tied up in their hairstyle, but a lot of women in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods don’t exercise regularly for a variety of reasons, including being unable to afford the high cost of a health club membership.
Additionally, when innocent people are being gunned down in the street, what makes anyone think it is safe for black women to bike, jog or even walk in their neighborhoods?
If the surgeon general wants to help black women get control of their weight, she should challenge the real barriers that are making healthy living a challenge.
Changing the black female obesity rate requires more than a new hairstyle.
It requires a change in lifestyle.

 

PretteePlease

#fakeworkouts
It's true....part of why I got a WN texture, style, ability to wash it after my 2xs/day workouts and I still get the look I like.
 

JayAnn0513

I make 30 look good!
It's true....part of why I got a WN texture, style, ability to wash it after my 2xs/day workouts and I still get the look I like.

Cosign. It's part of the reason I plan to never relax. Maintaining straight hair and working out would never work for me. Going to the salon weekly only to sweat it out? I'll pass.
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KhandiB

Well-Known Member
This isnt considered a study to me, lol

103 people??

The study polled 103 black women in the North Carolina..
 

nzeee

Well-Known Member
If the surgeon general wants to help black women get control of their weight, she should challenge the real barriers that are making healthy living a challenge.
Changing the black female obesity rate requires more than a new hairstyle.

the above is key. i don't expect random women on this forum to have a real analysis of the issues, but she's a surgeon general and should be looking a little deeper. sheesh!

her statement not only makes black women look shallow it makes her look like an idiot.

ladies, i'm pretty sure it's more than just hair that keeps many black women fat. there's been many many credible studies regarding the relationship between poverty, access, and health. this is where she needs to be looking, not quoting hairdressers (the hell??).
 

Your Cheeziness

New Member
Eh. I'm relaxed and work out 6 days a week and sweat heavily. My hair (a minor concern) is not unsalvageable after a workout. One of the men's cotton headbands and a scarf works wonders. Just leave that bad boy on until the hair is dry and pincurl or roll dry. Easy peasy.

People make time for what they want to make time for. And hair "should not" be an excuse to avoid exercise nor should it be a blanket reason for obesity.
 

Shadiyah

Well-Known Member
just do a poll right on this forum and everyone be honest. it is hard to believe something you are against. you just have to say this is not my excuse and walk away. it is why a lot of woman don't work out but it is not the reason why so many black woman are obeist. they can not afford to eat heathier, they would have to buy organic because the things they feed the animals and grow our food with is causing a lot of things for us. because as we all know excersing will not let all women lose weight.
 

greenandchic

Well-Known Member
I know its kind of off the subject, but I hate the assumption that all Black American women have relaxed hair.

My hair was never relaxed, but I did press it like there was no tomorrow. I still managed to swim in the summer, power walk during the week, did Yoga and take one night to hit it hard at the gym (the night before I got my hair done). I DID live and die for my hair, but I still exercised and just dealt with the consequences.
 

transitioning?

Well-Known Member
The NY Times was probably speaking to the surgeon general because of her making this statement at the bonnera bros hair show. I think that considering that she was speaking to an audience that is obsessed with hair her statement was spot on. Some women don't exercise or delay exercise because of hair

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AmyRose92

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't say she's wrong; just overgeneralizing. I know women who'd go to far lengths to keep their relaxers in tact. I vaguely remember watching this Flavor of Love episode where they went to like a water amusement park and one of the girls had to use a shower cap, saran wrap, etc. to make sure her weave didn't get wet. It's a very real issue, but of course, it's not the only thing. There are many responsibilities that come with working, raising a family, caring for the household, etc,. the environment, like OP said, and even cultural values. You'd be surprised how many people think that being big isn't a bad thing at all, but that it's a sign of beauty and prosperity. Some people criticize her for picking such a minor issue but it still is what it is: an issue. If this knocks down one of the many barriers between many black women and exercise, then so be it. I'd say that even though it's a small step, it's a step, nonetheless, in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle.
 

LoveTheSkinImIn

Well-Known Member
Maintaining hair isn't the biggest issue affecting obesity but it is a very real concern for a majority of my black female friends AND myself. And its a simple fact that when I had a relaxer, at least until I washed my hair again (in about 2-3 weeks) I was not doing anything to cause me to sweat. Period point blank. Unfortunate, but true so don't knock her statement because it didn't come out of a vaccuum. It's not an isolated excuse.
 

nissi

Well-Known Member
I know many out of shape (whether slim or "fat") black women who have "exercise friendly" hair.

Hair may be a consideration but it is definitely not the primary reason Black women don't exercise; health and nutrition priorities are.
 
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Your Cheeziness

New Member
I wouldn't say she's wrong; just overgeneralizing. I know women who'd go to far lengths to keep their relaxers in tact. I vaguely remember watching this Flavor of Love episode where they went to like a water amusement park and one of the girls had to use a shower cap, saran wrap, etc. to make sure her weave didn't get wet. It's a very real issue, but of course, it's not the only thing. There are many responsibilities that come with working, raising a family, caring for the household, etc,. the environment, like OP said, and even cultural values. You'd be surprised how many people think that being big isn't a bad thing at all, but that it's a sign of beauty and prosperity. Some people criticize her for picking such a minor issue but it still is what it is: an issue. If this knocks down one of the many barriers between many black women and exercise, then so be it. I'd say that even though it's a small step, it's a step, nonetheless, in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle.

LOL I ain't even mad @ the bolded. :lol:

But, yeah I agree with a lot of posters. It "shouldn't" be a reason, but it is. But what most people don't realize is that weight loss happens in the kitchen. And that doesn't require any sweating. Just make better food choices.
 

greenandchic

Well-Known Member
LOL I ain't even mad @ the bolded. :lol:

But, yeah I agree with a lot of posters. It "shouldn't" be a reason, but it is. But what most people don't realize is that weight loss happens in the kitchen. And that doesn't require any sweating. Just make better food choices.

That, I think is the biggest challenge for a lot of people. Some folks run like the Devil and hold a cross up to me when I answer their question on how I initially lost weight. When I say, "I stopped eating most forms of sugar, gave up grains (processed and whole), no processed foods, fast foods, started eating mostly veggies, health proteins, fruit, nuts, etc..." they roll their eyes and automatically assume they can't do it.
 

HappilyLiberal

Well-Known Member
The NY Times was probably speaking to the surgeon general because of her making this statement at the bonnera bros hair show. I think that considering that she was speaking to an audience that is obsessed with hair her statement was spot on. Some women don't exercise or delay exercise because of hair

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Plus she was at the BB show to brainstorm ways in which stylists could encourage healthier lifestyles for their clients.
 

ClassicBeauty

New Member
The NY Times was probably speaking to the surgeon general because of her making this statement at the bonnera bros hair show. I think that considering that she was speaking to an audience that is obsessed with hair her statement was spot on. Some women don't exercise or delay exercise because of hair

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That's what I thought. If you're speaking at a Black hair show, it seems totally appropriate to talk about this issue.
 

andromeda

Well-Known Member
gosh, this story made it on last week's wait, wait, don't tell me and they were laughing it up at the seeming ironic, short-sighted superficiality of using hair as an excuse not to exercise and the inappropriateness of the surgeon general deigning to comment on the issue (not bc she's fat but bc the issue seems "below her pay grade"). luckily they never mentioned that it was a "black women" issue :look:

i don't think the surgeon general was wrong, it's definitely a consideration for many bw - some tailor their workout schedules around their hair and for those who are on the fence about incorporating excersise into their lifestyle, it's another, very real deterrent. i'm not sure how i feel about her speaking on it in the mainsrream media and attending a hair show:perplexed
 

Lynnerie

Well-Known Member
Most people are just lazy-Its not that deep.

Yep I have to agree, with most women wearing weaves and wigs anyway I dont see how hair is the issue for not exercising. Its usually lack of time, money and and yes sometimes laziness.

ETA : And yes black women can't catch a break, we aren't the only ones not in the gym. I see plenty of Hispanic and Indian women packing on the pounds and no one is putting them on blast.
 
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manter26

Well-Known Member
This isnt considered a study to me, lol

103 people??

The study polled 103 black women in the North Carolina..

It's not a stretch that 100 people are representative of the entire population of black women...It only takes 1000+ to represent the entire US (based on 2000 Census). I do find fault with just using NC though.

Even when relaxed I worked out a couple hours a day. I'd rather be slim than have straight edges...but I realize that's not everyone's priority.
 

Chameleonchick

Well-Known Member
I understand what you mean and this does suck for someone to say that. But come on now, most of the black women I know say they don't exercise because of their hairstyle that's just keeping it real. It definitely is not the number one reason there is so much obesity in our community but it very well could be one of the reasons that keeps some of us from working out like we should.
 

naturalmanenyc

Well-Known Member
My hair being presentable for work after my daily workout was a problem; however, I solved it by getting a wet & wavy weave installed. I wore wet & wavy weave for years due to my workouts, prior to going natural.
 

levette

Well-Known Member
Braidouts are what have saved my exercise routine. But I see black women in my gym wear scarves to keep their hair tied down when they exercise
 

LifeafterLHCF

New Member
Its all on chose I believe.If one fat *** wants to workout they will no matter the hair situation.If that meant working out on Fri,Sat,Sun in order to get it in and wash your hair on Sun evening then so be it.One has to make the sacrifice to be fit so you fit into society.The point in the article about the gyms is a non-void point as well since there are Ymca's and hopefully recreation centers in the area that are quite affordable..if I can do it on my hourly wages then I know a chick who will drop 300-500 on some hair can do it even more.
 

LuvlyRain3

Well-Known Member
I am so sick of people telling us (bw) what we are and why we are that way.

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