Thursday, January 31, 2013

39. The Gym Hair(please!)Do

The woman shall align her hair care practices in a way that supports her participation in physical activities, promotes a consistent fitness regimen, and withstands the occasional rain shower (or dip in the ocean).

This particular law is a call to action (or a call to consideration, depending on where you are on the natural scale) especially for African American women.  It's not for every audience - but please accept it with the love and tenderness that I'm enclosing.

I came across an article in the Winston Salem Journal this week that emphasized how the hair care practices of black women prevent them from participating in physical excercise. I thought the article was incredibly one-sided, and it didn't represent the evolving priorities of ethnic women. Regardless of my personal reaction, an observation about OUR stuff is on the front page of a newspaper in North Carolina....which means maybe we should be taking an in-depth look, too.

When I think of my closest friends who are African American like me, concern about health and well-being (and a good shape!) are a huge priority.  My good friend Renee in NYC (who went natural last year) has always been a gym citizen.  My girl Nicole in Atlanta was the one who convinced me to join Clemson's rowing team years ago (she had braids and I rocked the big chop in 1998).  Both women are absolutely gorgeous, and they have always held health and fitness as huge priorities for years. Since I've known them, they've managed to maintain their hair around their lifestyles and not maintain their lifestyles around their hair. 

I've heard women mention that they don't want to get their hair wet or sweat out their perm (and I was in that camp during the days of my press and curl, believe me!), but I do want to gently suggest that we think about rearranging our priorities here and consider the well-being of our bodies and health as we make visits to the beauty salon. 

Our own health, fitness, and long-term well-being are being sacrificed to meet someone else's standard of beauty - is this where we really are?

America is counting our cases of obesity, diabetes.......and death - and while I know there's a huge constituency of women who work out like Flo Jo, there's also a group of us who have been ignoring gym memberships and 2K runs for sometime.

If you're in the sweat-a-lot category, good for you!  Work and keep beating your PB numbers. Take it a step further and bring a girlfriend with you, and keep nagging till she comes!  Encouragement is all she needs.

If you're considering adding a physical element to your life - go for it, lady!  You're already a step ahead of where you were before.  There are ways to look cute and work out (consider sweat headbands, braids, natural styles, etc.) - you owe it to yourself and your family.  They want you around for a while!

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