It must suck to be a black woman if you read and believe the multiple stories of her dysfunction. Earlier this year, we here at Frugivore thought we had helped debunk the myth the black women cared more about their hair than exercise.

Honestly, with the plethora of Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook “fitspiration” pages, along with the multiple health and wellness organizations like Black Girls Run! and Girl Trek, all of which focus its efforts on helping black women begin their fitness journeys — and not to mention Nicole Ari Parker’s ingenious fitness headband — isn’t it time to put this myth to bed. Black women clearly love both exercise and their hair.

But yesterday, Reuters felt it was necessary to run an article with the headline “Hairstyles may keep some black women from exercise.” Interestingly, the study, which was from 2007, looked at the responses from 103 black female dermatology patients in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and came to the conclusion that, since a third of the respondents claimed their hair was factor in their lack of exercise, part of black women’s obesity problems are a result their unique fascination with their hairstyles.

“As an African-American woman, I have that problem, and my friends have that problem. So I wondered if my patients had that problem,” said Dr. Amy McMichael, the study’s senior researcher and a dermatologist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A black woman led the study, so apparently that gave this non-story legs, but, in blatantly ignoring the countless studies since 2007 that have shown there are a myriad of reasons that contribute to the obesity rate amongst black women, Reuters does a disservice to concerned readers in reporting it in this manner.

Adding injury to insult, the story includes lines such as the following:

  • Rochelle Mosley, who owns Salon 804 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, told Reuters Health some of her African-American clients come in once per week to get their hair straightened at a cost of about $40.
  • [Black women] may not want to wash their hair more than once a week to keep their hairstyle, and may avoid sweating because of that.
  • McMichael also admits that they only surveyed African-American women, and they can’t say whether this is a problem shared by other ethnicities.

Basically, black women who straighten their hair have a roughly $1900 per year habit that affects them negatively, leading to obesity-related diseases, yet no one, especially this salon owner, is surprised since black women have been getting larger, and not doing anything to change.  But more importantly, since white women and other ethnicities with “good hair” love to wash their hair in between salon visits, there was no reason for this black female scientist, with hair issues herself, to hold the results of this study until she found out if other women had the similar issues or if this was unique to black women.

A quick search of SHAPE, a fitness magazine, shows that white women, or most women in general, deal with the issue of hair and the gym, so it can’t be just black women who have this problem.

around the web


  1. Another biased and pretentious study. Hair isn’t the issue, it’s time, mental health and lack of resources.

    Nicole Ari Parker’s doodoo wrap isn’t going to save us black women as was banked up. Commercialization and exploitation has never saved us, collectively, from anything.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Parker’s company, or some relative entity ($$), sponsored the study.

  2. This is certainly not an issue that only Black women have. “Researchers” release studies like this only to undermine the real causes of obesity among Black women or to perpetuate stereotypes that make us seem vain, lazy, or just plain ridiculous. This “study” is the real ridiculousness of it all…. and not the least bit true of any Black woman I know. Of all the reasons I’ve heard of why my Black female peers don’t exercise, hair issues is the least among them.

    • @ms K: It’s really bad when other supposed ‘blacks’ are behind the perpetuation of these stereotypes.

      From Deborah Lee (BET CEO) to a plethora of others, especially the one fickle when it comes to their own racial identities, there are many blacks who have taken part in this same type of irresponsibility towards the black community.

      They’re black when convenient!

  3. This is such an irresponsible story. I hate to hear this kind of nonsense when it comes to our people.

  4. This pisses me off to my shoes. Something else? I don’t know WHY I read the comments as I did on the original article….Irresponsible is right!!! It seems to me this attack on Black women is another attempt to try to have us be as insecure as everybody else. That ain’t happening!

    • @The Mighty Quinn: You read the comments? I couldn’t see them on my mobile device, but I can imagine. I used to have some kind of masochistic desire to read all the negative comments on Yahoo a while back. That’s where I used to read a lot of news articles, but I really had to stop reading comments at had anything to do with race or politics. The commenters are horrible. I don’t even go over there really.

  5. Another one of these articles really? And it was on Yahoo. I can only imagine the comments. I’m not even upset about the race baiting and obvious attempts at drawing in views. I’m upset at the black people who do these studies and write these articles as if they’re bringing some kind of awareness like that woman who wrote the article about how black women like being fat.

  6. they will never cease will they

  7. why are these researchers so OBSESSED WITH BLACK WOMEN. I don’t see them doing these sorts of studies on asian, latina, white or native american women and if they are, they don’t seem to get blasted in national msm like these studies are. It’s getting ridiculous.

Leave a Reply