Jump to What Interests you Most

Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Debate/Discussion: Black women do not exercise because of their hair

Last month I was browsing the web for health and fitness news. I stumbled upon two articles, quoting two different reports, which stated that the majority of black women don't exercise because of their hair.

Meaning, that they choose not to engage in physical activity to avoid "messing up" their hair. The first article quoted that about 30% of black women use this as an excuse. While the second article stated that this is extremely detrimental to black women because 77% are overweight and 49% are obese.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure whether these websites are reputable or the organizations that conducted this research. 

However, that's not really my concern in bringing up this topic for discussion.

I want to know if people out there really believe this. I, personally, have heard fellow black women say they "can't" or have to "postpone" exercise because they recently "got their hair done." As a black woman myself, I frequently schedule my exercise around my hair. 

In fact, I'm sure a lot of women do that regardless of race.

As many may know I am dedicated to health and fitness. I subscribe to many newsletters and magazines giving tips and tricks on how to stay fit. Often there are beauty tips for women on how to take care of their hair before and/or after a workout. Why? Well, because looking good is just as important as feeling good. I think we can all agree to that! However, I never find these tips for MY type of hair. Never for a black woman's hair type. 

This is an issue.

Just like we need help on how to perform exercises correctly to avoid injury, so too do we need tips on how to maintain our lifestyles with exercise. Hair is important. There are numerous studies that explain the importance hair has on self image and others' perception of ourselves. So these newsletters and things are providing a useful tool for its readers. I just think there is a large group of women left out.

I don't engage in exercise to make a political statement. 

I go because I believe it is essential to my health and I love it! Then again, when I go to the gym, run, or look at these exercise resources, I can't help noticing how women who look like me are not represented. Or at least not as much as I would prefer.

Everyone is different. Everyone has to find what works for them, their body, their hair, and their lifestyle. I just think that everyone needs motivation. 

Maybe if black women were more represented in fitness magazines and articles about fitness, they (we) might be less "afraid" or "nervous" to exercise.

Bottom line: hair cannot be an excuse not to exercise.  

Heck, NO excuse is a good excuse not to exercise!  
(Ok, maybe if you have some sort of health issue...)

What do others think? What do you do to take care of your hair while exercising? How do you overcome excuses in general?


  1. As a certified fitness coach I hear quite a few excuses. There is one highly effective thing you can do to help you overcome your excuses. Usually the same "road blocks" show up for any individual. The key is to recognize these blocks before you start any program. Just write down the excuses you know you always make. The more honest you are the more successful you will be. So now you're two weeks in your program and "I'm too busy to workout". But you know this excuse is on your list. You know that the excuse isn't true and in fact, it's just an excuse. Now you have the power to change your old ways of thinking.

  2. Great way to look at things. I'm definitely going to share this with family and friends, especially my husband! He complains a lot that he wants to lose weight. But always finds an excuse not to come with me running (I run too fast, for example) or not to ride his mountain bike (he has no one to go with, for example). Thanks for the comment!

  3. Good discussion Sam!
    hmmm, I have mixed feelings in general about this topic. From my experience, hair does affect the amount of exercise black women do, meaning cardio may be limited because we may not want to sweat out our processed hair, those with natural hair don't have this concern. The type of exercise we do may be affected, I doubt too many black women are swimming or skiing and do those of us in major cities have access to open green spaces to bike? So I do feel that hair plays an important role, but someone who really wants to reach their goals will do so despite obstacles. I agree with you sam that we are not visually represented, not in magazines or at the gym, but to be honest I don't support large corporations and their huge over priced gyms, nor do I support the mass marketed image that women under a size 6 are the only healthy and beautiful women. People should be focused on health in a holistic way, not losing weight to look like a teenager again. I could share my personal journey but im typing on a cell phone and my finger is starting to tire. What I will say is this, each women must embrace an image she defines for herself, her health should include internal and external goals, as well as mental health check ins and the milestones she sets for her life should include goals related to her personal values such as family, spirituality, finances and health. Right now I'm celebrating because my blood pressure is normal again since having a baby and I'm remembering to take my vitamins and drink water daily. I may not be hitting the gym daily but I'm slowly losing baby weight, I haven't been in the hospital in months and I have a healthy happy baby boy. For me that's what counts.

  4. All great points Sprina! I found myself nodding my head at everything you said. Especially about the boxes we put ourselves in (and society). Health IS a holistic thing. It's not only about your weight on a scale or fitting into a bathing suit. It's about physical and mental health. In my life I strive for both. Thanks for the comment!