Prioritizing Hair Before Health: Black Women Have Highest Rates of Obesity In The U.S.

We often neglect working out or going to the gym to preserve our hairstyles and beauty regimens. From my own experiences, this is a choice more Black women make than any other race. Since four out of five Black women in the U.S. are obese, you’d think health would be more important than a perceived standard of beauty.

I hear often enough amongst women that they rather not sweat their hair out in the gym because it costs too much time, money, and energy to get it styled again. Although, that sounds reasonable if one is sacrificing daily physical activity to maintain an outward appearance, their inner health and well being will suffer. It is no secret a healthy diet and exercise in combination can prevent illness and disease, so the choice to inactively participate because of hair can have negative impacts on overall wellness.

It is concerning to know that after all the years we’ve struggled with our hair we continue to hold ourselves hostage to European beauty standards. There are other ways of maintaining hairstyles that allow for a more active lifestyle, however, those styles may not be preferred because they are natural styles; braids, ponytails, twists, afro, locs, etc.

There are corporate environments that do not prefer Black women to wear their natural hair because it is seen as a “distraction” or as unprofessional, this is another reason why it is discouraging and hard to make changes with our hair because we have allowed industries to ban what it looks like in its natural state.

Social media and various other social platforms like the music or modeling industry, display straight hair and European textured hair as the norm for women of color. Experimenting with hair and wigs is a fun way to express who you are and can also be used as an extension of your personality but it should never replace a consistently healthy, active lifestyle. Now more than ever there are so many resources to finding workout-friendly hairstyles that are cost-effective and beneficial in reaching your fitness goals.

If we continue to prioritize our hair and beauty