Thursday, August 5, 2010

Black Women, Obesity and Our Hair: The Third Rail

Studies show that four out of five Black women are overweight or obese. (See Yikes! I'm no mathematician but 4 out of 5 equals 80%. While the stats are mind boggling, one need only take a stroll down any predominately Black area to know that the stats don't lie. My own anecdotal experience leads me to this conclusion that a major reason for this is that we just don't workout as often as we should. Sad to say that when I go to the gym or am running on a trail I don't see very many of us out there.

One of the unspoken reasons we don't work out is because of our hair. Many of us don't want to "sweat out" our hair. It starts at an early age. I remember as a kid not wanting to run too hard in P.E. class or turning down an opportunity to SCUBA diving as part of a chemistry class because of my hair. One of the best decisions I've ever made in life was to wear my hair naturally. No more relaxers, flat irons, pressing combs, nada. Just let it grow the way God intended it to grow. Of course, the decision wear my hair natural was not easy. The transition/transformation took me six --yes 6--years. I stopped relaxing my hair in 2002 but continued to press, flat iron, ect... until 2008.

For many of us (myself included), it's hard to embrace our own natural beauty. From an early age we are indoctrinated with a westernized standard of beauty--fair skin long straight hair is pretty-- dark skin short kinky hair isn't. It's particularly tough because for many women notions of beauty and self-worth are co-dependent variables. It's important that we realize however that what we have IS beautiful. I love my natural hair. I especially love being able to run and workout without having to worry about "sweating out" an inauthentic hairstyle that belies who I really am. Being "pretty" on Westernized terms is literally killing us. Even if you are not ready let go of that perm or press, there are ways to maintain your straight look and still exercise. Check out this link below--courtesy of Black Women Do Workout:!/video/video.php?v=466814297432&ref=mf

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