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Black Hair and Exercising

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Hi, ladies. I read with interest an online article in Blackdoctor.org with the following title: “Black Women Aren’t Exercising?!” I chuckled when I read the following quote from the article:

“I want to become more active, but I just don’t know about all that sweating! What would I do with my hair? I sweat through my scalp!….my edges!”

I can relate.   I too sweat through my scalp. In fact, I remember as a very young girl having great struggles with my mom about my hair. It was not a good experience – at all.   She would wash my hair on Saturdays and straighten it with a comb hot enough to set hell on fire.   All of this was in an effort to get all of the “kinks” out, especially around the edges, so that I could look presentable for Church. Of course, when that blazing hot comb came near me, especially around the edges, I did what any normal person would do – I ducked and dodged to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, I was never quick enough to escape, as my mother was a pro at the proverbial “head jerk” that would fling my head back around, just in time for that hot comb weapon to burn my ear lobes, temples or neck.   It’s no wonder I was immediately drawn to the “afro” when I went off to college.

Back to the article, which goes on to say that Black women have been programmed to believe that success and status is defined by how our hair looks.   I would agree with this and I certainly believe, in a lot of cases, our mothers set this precedent for us. But, I do see more Black women exercising because natural hair is now more acceptable and “in vogue,” if you will. No matter the motive, this is a good thing when it comes to our health.

Now, according to research cited in the article, about 56 percent of black women 20 or older are obese. This makes them vulnerable to stroke, diabetes and heart disease. With this in mind, according to the writer, discussions about black hair should be included in medical education curriculums.

May I now take the liberty to urge us, ladies, to pay more attention to our health than our hair? It’s imperative we change the trajectory of our thinking and most importantly, make sure our daughters are free of this bondage.   Let me assure you that although the program your mother may have formulated about your hair may be powerful, it can be deleted. I deleted mine. I always wear a scarf when I exercise, even though my hair is natural. I actually get compliments on my scarves, but folk don’t know I wear the scarves because I sweat profusely through my scalp.

Can I get an amen?