Feature Blog Fridays: A Black Woman’s Fear of Sweating Her Hair Out

May 11, 2012


By: Shaila Strayhorn Exercising has been an important way of staying in shape and relieving my stress. Anything from kick boxing, Pilates, and running the treadmill; I find to be a relaxing and invigorating experience. However, when I have asked some of my friends, family members, and even colleagues to come join me in this experience; they often respond with these horrid words “I can’t go exercise; I will sweat my hair out!”  Even our own US surgeon general, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, can relate to this topic when she stated during an interview that “When [women] start to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.” As African American women, it has been programmed within our minds at a young age that we need to take a great amount of precautions in order to keep our hair beautiful. From being taught how to wrap our hair, to needing to sleep in a certain position to keep our hair looking nice for the next day, these “hair” precautions that we developed still exist during adulthood. For example, many African American women spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on hair care compared to going to a gym and working out . One study conducted by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center found that 31% of 103 African American women that were surveyed, stated that they would exercise less because it may harm their hairstyles. In order to avoid being a part of this statistic I have found the following resolutions helpful when working out and still maintaining my hair style: I engage in my workout activities before my beauty shop appointments I talk with my beautician about products I can use in order to maintain my hairstyle after a heavy work out I use a cotton head band to prevent the sweat from making my edges to frizzy To counteract the effects of sweat use a leave in conditioner before working out For non-natural hair, WRAP IT UP!!! Use a silk scarf or head wrap to maintain hair style Between your hair and a good sweaty work out; the fact still remains that only one can lead to lifelong health benefits. Which will you choose? ------------------------------ Shaila Strayhorn is a supporter of BGR! and she loves to engage in zumba, pilates, and club boxing. She is a current first year graduate student at The University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is pursuing a Master’s in Public Health and enjoys exercising and spending time with her family and friends.

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