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:
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.