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Twisted Priorities? Among Black Women Why Doesn’t Weight Get the Same Attention As Hair?

Avatar • Nov 3, 2011

by ERIKA NICOLE KENDALL of A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss

I’ve always had a gang of hair. Like, a GANG of hair. There’s actually a very old video of my mother trying to tame my hair as a toddler, and two thirds of the screen was nothin’ but ‘fro.

My mother wasn’t having it, though. Born in the era of straightening combs on the stove, she was good for waking me up at the crack of dawn and burning the hell out of me trying to straighten my hair. I don’t even think I knew what my hair looked like without a handful of grease and a whole morning’s worth of heat in it… because we started doing this routine when I was approximately 4 years of age.

Say what you will about that – especially since it was a couple of decades ago – but I grew up believing that I was supposed to have straight hair, and this suffering was how I was supposed to get it. If ever my kitchen (you know what the kitchen is) was even remotely curly, my Mom was quick on the draw. “Um, what’s goin’ on with your natural? Come here, let me hit those naps real quick.” I never thought twice about it. That was Mom, for crying out loud. I pretty much worshipped the ground she walked on – always well dressed, properly put together, never a hair out of place – surely, she knew what she was talkin’ about.

I, much like most of the little Black girls in my area, grew up coveting straight hair.  Considering how difficult this was to maintain for girls like me with the most all-the-way-live-kinks and coils, this also made us resent anything that got in the way of us ruining that straight hair. Gym class was almost always indoors, and forget about getting us in any kind of swimming pool.

Eventually, all that hair pressing left my hair pretty lifeless. Horribly split ends, breaking off like nobody’s business.. I actually remember people clowning me about it. I didn’t really know any better. I just knew I needed to have straight hair, and I was succumbing to what I needed in order to get it.

It got worse once I entered high school. After having moved to my new neighborhood where all the hair was not only straight, but blond and long.. my mother and I dug all throughout the city to find a hairdresser who could help me at least accomplish the long and straight part. As a high schooler, I was in the salon weekly, spending $40 for a wash/rinse/press… and $80 once a month for my relaxer. Two hundred dollars a month to acquire this look that I had coveted since I was four years old.

Needless to say, I grew up prioritizing an inordinate amount of time strictly to straight hair. Never knew (or considered) why I did, why I needed to… never asked any questions. Just fell in line.

Hindsight is most certainly 20/20, though.

I started gaining weight somewhere around the fourth grade. I can’t help but wonder why no one was equally “quick on the draw” checking me about my weight instead of my hair. I wonder why I never prioritized an “inordinate amount of time strictly to” my physical and emotional fitness instead of… hair. I wonder why a more fit physique wasn’t “coveted” the same way straight hair was coveted. It just seemed like I wanted those things that seemed easiest to acquire – just spend your morning getting burned by the stove and you, too, can have straight hair just like “the rest of society.”I guess “being fit and healthy” wasn’t that easy to achieve.

When you grow up putting such a high priority on hair, it means that at some point, you start cutting things out to protect that priority. I can recall taking an F for a semester of PE because I wasn’t getting in any pool. (After an uber expensive hair treatment? No thanks.) I can recall walking the “one mile speed test” because I didn’t want to sweat… and I was out there for almost 18 minutes to do it. In college, I took a geography class that required not only hiking but kayaking… and I gave my professor hell the entire time, complaining that I “was going to have to take out a student loan to keep up my hair if he was going to have us out with Mother Nature every other darn day.” I dealt with it in order to get my “A,” but that was about it.

When I first started working out – as in, complete newbie status – I can remember stopping on the elliptical the moment I felt liquid on my forehead. I was literally allergic to sweat. It wasn’t until one night I happened to be at the gym the same time as The Cleaner was on, accidentally stayed on the elliptical the entire episode, jumped on the scale and saw that I lost a pound of water weight that I literally said “Man, f– this hair.” That was the end of that for me. Every night, I was wearing my sweaty shirt as a badge of honor.“Yes, that’s right, I broke it dowwwwwwwwwn on that there machine! I’m that chick!” I’ve been over it, since.

I listen to conversations that other women have about their hair, and I always keep quiet… though more often than not, I’m the one they want to hear from. Not because I’m anybody special, but because the assumption is that this is a hurdle I’ve encountered before. I don’t really have any popular or easy answers for them, which is why I usually keep quiet. I could say, “Why is straight hair such a big deal to y’all, anyway?” but that’d only be met with laughter and “Um, anyways…” and I’d rather not get extra indignant and say “What if you swapped your hair with your body in your list of priorities? This wouldn’t even be an issue then, would it? You’d be doing what you gotta do to make your hair work without interfering with your gym routine… not just doing what you can at the gym to feel like you did something, and protecting your hair investment.” That’d certainly ruin the mood. Instead, I just shrug my shoulders. Everyone has their “come to fitness” moment at different points of their lives.. I don’t know that a social gathering is the proper place to try to evoke someone’s moment without their consent.

In my mind, my priorities have shifted. They’ve shifted to the point where I find it hard to understand the logic anymore. If I’m going to devote my every sunrise to something, it’s going to be my health. If I’m going to go the extra mile for anything, it’s going to be my body. I’ve even decided to be a little vain about it. If I experience pain on a regular basis or a regular burn… it’ll be because I’m workin’ hard on getting my abs cut right or building my fit booty. To me, if I let my priorities switch back to what they were, then I’m going to start gaining weight. I don’t want that.

Somewhere along the line, too many of us have grown to prioritize something as minor league as our hair over the major league issues, like health. It’s considered unnecessary vanity if I take pride in my abs or my legs (I’m showing off, and deserving of the catty conversation behind my back), but my hair better be on point or… I’m deserving of the catty conversation behind my back. You’re clowned for having “bad hair,” and – not saying you should be clowned for a “bad body” – praised for staying on top of your hair and not having a strand out of place. Hour long conversations can be had about hair products that are healthy for our hair.. “but what’s healthy for our bodies?” Silence.

Maybe I’m just hella skeptical… and I can accept that. But there’s a serious problem with the fact that we can figure out a thousand ways to keep our hair in tip top shape – some of us sitting with mayonnaise, avocado, egg, kool-aid and dill pickle mixtures on our heads because we heard it’ll make it “grow” – but no one’s willing to give healthy living a shot, trying different things to keep our bodies in tip top shape. Something is very wrong when it makes sense to allow something like hair to get in the way of our pursuit of health.

The wild thing about it, really, is that I don’t have any answers. For me, I haven’t put a flat iron to my head in almost ten months. My loved ones don’t even bother asking me to do otherwise. Folks know when it’s me running in the neighborhood because there’s usually about a foot worth of ‘fro bouncing behind me. If I have somewhere to go, I even occasionally jazz it up and put something in my hair. I spend too much time being active to want to sit around protecting a hairstyle. I just prefer to focus my efforts on my body.. and the more I do that, the more I find that others focus their attentions there, too. “For get her hair, did you see her body? Dang!” I’m OK with that. I put in the work, I shifted my priorities there.. that’s what I want… even if I’m rockin’ an attention-grabber like below.

Me… right now. Clipped in the back, up off my neck, breeze blowin’ through my scalp? Winner.

Excerpted from Black Women, Our Bodies & Perceptions of Beauty: Straight Hair | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

*The original title of this article has been changed*

This article really made me pause and think! What do you think ladies? Are our priorities twisted?

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NinaG
NinaG
8 years ago

perhaps the title should read Why Doesn’t Health Get The Same Attention As Hair.
Not everybody has a weight problem

Adriii
Adriii
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

True. And I also think the lack of emphasis on weight is less due to health being a lesser priority and more to do with the classification of obesity as “thickness,” where thick=sexy.

BrooklynCoily
BrooklynCoily
8 years ago
Reply to  Adriii

Exactly. Fat is Fat.

Barbara
Barbara
8 years ago
Reply to  BrooklynCoily

Truer words have never been said!

June
June
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

Bingo! I have never been 250 lbs. Hell, I have never been 150 lbs.

I wish people would stop trying to insist their experiences and the experiences of their friends and family are universal to all black people. 66% of white women are overweight or obese; what is their excuse?

No, my hair has never had a higher priority than my wellbeing and I am a black woman. My experience is just as valid.

Mai
Mai
8 years ago
Reply to  June

Exactly!!! My dad and his family are much more concerned about weight and health than hair. My family is ripped, my 60 year old uncle is in more shape than men in their 20s. My cousin BC’d and while everyone has surprised, they thought she looked fine. She also gained 50lbs over the course of a couple years and my family insults her left and right. Getting her weight under control is more of a priority than her education. And while that is the wrong way to handle it (and it is backwards), it does prove that not all African… Read more »

donya
donya
8 years ago
Reply to  June

I thought that was the point of this site, for readers to share their experiences with each other. My hair or exercise has never been my priority. I just have good genes because until recently (pregnancy) i’ve been a size two. According to your stat (66% of woman are obese) although your and my experiences are valid, we are the minority. While the majority of woman may need some type of redirection, such as this article.

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago
Reply to  June

True. I am quite physically fit myself and I never let my hair interfere with my workout, but this article was not about my experience or your experience. It is about her experience and it is a real problem in the black community as a whole even if it is not your personal problem. So, it needs to be addressed and she just did.

Ruth
Ruth
8 years ago
Reply to  Bridget

+1

Anna Renee
8 years ago
Reply to  Bridget

Thanks.

Blueberry Goddess
Blueberry Goddess
8 years ago
Reply to  Anna Renee

Ditto!

Wendy
Wendy
8 years ago
Reply to  Bridget

cosigning

Barbara
Barbara
8 years ago
Reply to  Wendy

Thank you! Soooo tired of folks turning a blind eye to our issues AS A WHOLE by recounting the exception.

NeNatural
NeNatural
8 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

True Indeed…Moving from a perdominatly black neighborhood to a mixed white community.…it feels like they expect me to be a big women and talk REAL LOUD…I hate feeling uncomfortable because as a whole we have this look of being big overbearing women, when we know that’s not true. And I do mean big in size and mouth. I hate getting loud and not looking black enough because the rest of the world thinks somethings different about me cause i’m small. It seperates us more than you think in other communities and it hurts.

Jaslene
Jaslene
8 years ago
Reply to  June

This a website for black women good for you for being less than 150 but there are a lot of black women more concerned about their hair than their health a lot of them. Sorry if you don’t see that.

Rhonda
8 years ago
Reply to  June

It seems to me that a lot of those that have negative comments simply cannot relate, which is fine. Every article does not apply to every person. So if you dont have a weight problem and has never had a weight problem we really dont need to hear about it because this article is to help those sista’s that it apply to. Lets be better than this! If you think your comments are not productive or can be offensive to the writter that put their personal business out there on the strength to help others, then keep your comments to… Read more »

NeNatural
NeNatural
8 years ago
Reply to  Rhonda

And let the curch say.…AMEN…Hurtful is what we’re not Jaslene. That’s not keepin it real!

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

+1

julia
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

Agreed. It really does depend on the family. I grew up in a very health conscious family (read: brown rice and broccoli and no sugary cereal). We exercised as a family; My sister and I always trying to out-stretch and out push-up my dad. If we knew we were going to grandma’s for a few weeks (hello swimming pool) we got braids for the summer. We danced, we ran cross country, we rode bikes … All of this with natural hair, the occasional hot comb, then alternating perms and braids. As an adult, I’ve never NOT had some kind of… Read more »

shannon
shannon
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

smh…

MissEducation
MissEducation
8 years ago
Reply to  NinaG

Perhaps the title should remain as is, because the article is about one woman’s struggle with weight. Thousands of others can relate, even if you can’t. Smh, everyone is a critic.

Sunny
Sunny
8 years ago

Girl, you rock. Hair, body, and spirit. And that hair is fly!

marg
marg
8 years ago

I think the whole “Natural” hair movement has started a new look at our diets. I personally am seeing more vegan/vegetarian minded naturals! We have had years of brainwashing and it is going to be a while before we start turning the boat around, but I am greatly encouraged to see this movement is encouraging us to look at our “entire” self in a more healthy and natural way!

Steph...In Motion
8 years ago
Reply to  marg

I agree. One day I realized I was more concerned with what I put on my hair than what I put in my body. WRONG ANSWER! I started making my health a priority, lost almost 50 pounds, and my hair is looking pretty good, too!

Anna Renee
8 years ago
Reply to  marg

It’s fabulous that our black women’s movement is always focused on our growth — physical, emotional, spiritual, mental.
We struggle, we fight, we argue, then we agree in love and move forward! We learn to live inspired and inspiring lives in spite of the nay sayers.
We learn more and more about who we are as black women, and we share our testimonies. Then we struggle, we fight, we argue again and agree to disagree and continue to grow.
This movement of black woman’s awakening cannot be stopped, it’s too powerful, so enemies, don’t bother to try.

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Anna Renee

Love this!!! Yes!

Lantoinette
Lantoinette
8 years ago

We should focus on both equally.…healthy hair and healthy body. To be well-rounded let’s also focus on healthy mind, healthy spirit, and healthy soul. They all should be fed healthy things.

Lilly
Lilly
8 years ago
Reply to  Lantoinette

I think I understand what you are saying generally, but I have to disagree with respect to the equal focus on hair and body. Your health should come first. Healthy hair will come from taking care of a healthy body.

Uh Huh Yeah
Uh Huh Yeah
8 years ago
Reply to  Lilly

+1 Lilly. If you take care of your body, healthy hair will be one of the many benefits of a healthier being. Damaged hair can grow back, your body can never fully bounce back from diabetes or heart disease.

Likewaterforchocolat
Likewaterforchocolat
8 years ago
Reply to  Uh Huh Yeah

I’m with Lilly. A healthy body will equal healthy hair. Hit iteself is dead. Healthy hair means nothing if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease or any of these other issues that plague black women in particular which are aggravated by obesity or weight issues.One of my main reasons to BC was because I was concerned about physical fitness. I was committed to remaining physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, so going natural with my hair was just a part of that committment. I work out 4 to 5 x’s a week and do not… Read more »

EG
EG
8 years ago
Reply to  Lilly

+1

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago
Reply to  Lilly

+ 1 Your health should get the primary focus and then the hair will reap the benefits.

donya
donya
8 years ago

And let the choir say ‘AMEN’. That bit about kool-aid and dill pickles, hella funny.

Yahlah Yisrael
8 years ago

It’s called mental illness and delusion. Black women are constantly trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Just as we have tried to fit the European standard by killing our hair with chemicals ever 4 to 6 weeks. We do the same thing with our weight. The Body Mass Index wasn’t designed for black women. Our BMI is naturally higher and we tend to be in better health than white women with the same BMI. All because an American study says we’re fat doesn’t make that true. We tend to have less belly fat than they do… Read more »

denise
denise
8 years ago
Reply to  Yahlah Yisrael

theres a lot of truth in ur statement that the standards are for their bodies not ours. I mean, lets consider star jones and jenn hudson. their faces look too big for their smaller bodies but theyre in their ‘ideal weight range’. however, on the other hand some of these sistahs i see, they are beyond thick and they def need to come down. 20 should not be the new 30, if you know what i mean. We need increased attention on hair, health, and just being downright presentable.

Nomadicsoulsista
8 years ago
Reply to  denise

It is true that Black women, on average, have a different body composition than women of other ethnic groups, but considering that most of us are ethnically mixed anyway, it’s a fallacy to assume that the difference is enough for us to completely disregard it because we are black. However, it is true that for extremely athletic people, the tool doesn’t really apply. It doesn’t take into account muscle mass and muscle weighs more than fat. The sad truth is that most of us are fat whether we like it or not. If Black people were that different, wouldn’t you… Read more »

Noir
Noir
8 years ago
Reply to  Yahlah Yisrael

It is true that the BMI chart is very flawed cause while it while it works well for a lot of White women it deems most Black women as too fat or most Asian women as too skinny. Why there hasn’t been a BMI chart that helps other races of women? I have no idea :/

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Noir

That’s why a lot of us should not go by the BMI. There are other factors to determine your health. As someone who does weight training, if I were to use the BMI as my standard of health, I would be considered “overweight” when that’s not the case.

Barbara
Barbara
8 years ago
Reply to  Yahlah Yisrael

Yeah, okay Star Jones was never fat and Jhud wasn’t carrying spare tires before they succumbed to “European ideals”.

denise
denise
8 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

u misread me. i agree that they needed to come down but ur blind if you cant see how they look off balance. being ‘ideal’ to me implies being lean and proportional not looking like a bobblehead.

NeNatural
NeNatural
8 years ago
Reply to  denise

.…We’re not like that doll…say something real and we will hear it. Ofcoarse Star Jones over ate and she lost the weight in an unatural unhealty way. Many of us just don’t like to be compared to white women or any other women at all. It’s hurtful because we don’t want to look like something we’re not. Great health is universal…God blessed everyone to have it if they choose it. I think many euros trip up over us not looking wanting them.

Kellie
Kellie
8 years ago
Reply to  Yahlah Yisrael

I totally agree that the BMI chart was designed upon European standards, not African! & for the sista who wants to put down all sistas who weigh over 150 lbs, ignore her! People who have to put down others to feel good about themselves have issues. Back to the question, health is very important. Take small steps toward better health and keep that hair fly so that you will not only feel better, but look better!

renee
renee
8 years ago

Its cultural as always. bw have always been given room to be more ‘ample’. Hair-no mercy whatsoever (mostly from ourselves) which is why I think there’s more attention given. On another note, if it was as easy as diet and excercise everyone would be skinny. its not. there are usually other things going on. & just because there arent tons of blogs and Utube vids (its become a fad) on it doesnt mean bw arent stressing about their waist line and working on yet another diet to lose the weight.

EG
EG
8 years ago
Reply to  renee

I disagree that it’s not as easy as diet and excercise. The truth is that it is that easy, but the problem is that most people don’t stick with either, which causes them to fail. After they fail, they say that diet and excercise did not work. It takes baby steps, but if you stay the course, you will see results. I think the point of the article is that people are willing to stay the course with hair, but not excercise.

denise
denise
8 years ago
Reply to  EG

we can agree to disagree. there are emotions behind how we consume food. thats why there are such terms as comfort food and compulsive eating. most overweight ppl have to change their thinking and deal with their issues while cutting back.

if youre struggling with your weight consider reading ‘thin is the new happy’, a funny but eye opening memoir about a white woman who struggled with her weight her whole life (who knew they even existed).

Delightbunnie
Delightbunnie
8 years ago

I appreciate the article very much. It was very insightful. I personally never had an issue with weight loss but at the same time I try to be active and fit to keep my body in good condition.

Jade
8 years ago

I love blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com,

I don’t care that I’ve never been over 130lbs, she just inspires me to get more and more fit.
I’ve been lifting and running like mad in addition to eating as vegan as possible (cheese and honey haunt me with their deliciousness). My abs are looking sexy and my biceps are rock solid. I need 10 minutes to stare at myself in the mirror and flex each morning.

And that line about wine and unexpected pics is so true. 🙂

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago
Reply to  Jade

LOL. Go girl!

GG
GG
8 years ago
Reply to  Jade

lol — I’ve also never been over 130lbs at 5“5′ and I love blackgirlsguidetoweightloss too, very inspirational and topical posts.

Curliegirlie
Curliegirlie
8 years ago
Reply to  Jade

I check her website everyday, and I have also never had a problem with my weight or a lack of exercise (5′7″, never weighed over 130lbs, and I’ve been a runner since I was 15). I have learned sooooooooo much from Erica. The ridiculous amount of processing that happens in so called “healthy” foods…how horrible soda is for us…the problem with “low fat” diets…and the reasons why juices aren’t as healthy as we like to think they are… Since reading her blog, I feel better, I eat more, and I run more efficiently, all because I have eliminated processed foods… Read more »

nomad
nomad
8 years ago

Sorry i’m gonna get back to you on the very important (no sarcasm!) topic. but first

GENEVIEVE!!! my naija peeps (and other africans) know what i’m talking bout

Wow!!!
Wow!!!
8 years ago
Reply to  nomad

That’s right girl! Lol! I actually did a double-take, didn’t recognize her for a second on a non-Nigerian blog.

anon-naij'
anon-naij'
8 years ago
Reply to  nomad

+1 Love her!

Zenith
Zenith
8 years ago

As a health care for professional for 14 yrs, I have had the privilege of seeing many patients of a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds in several major cities in the U.S. Unfortunately, I have seen more black women who tend to be overweight (and even obese) as compared to any other group I have treated. And no, the majority of the patients I have seen are not black. This weight issue, in my opinion, is not just an issue of a faulty measuring system (i.e. BMI). It is a hop- on ‑the-scale-and-you-are-entirely-too-heavy-for-your height thing. The incidence of diabetes… Read more »

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago
Reply to  Zenith

Well said.

anastasia
anastasia
8 years ago
Reply to  Bridget

+ 1,000,000!

demoiselle
demoiselle
8 years ago

I think this article is positive and I find it annoying that some people try to make it negative. Just because it didn’t apply to you does not mean it isn’t true for a LARGE portion of other black women. In black culture we do put more emphasis on hair then health. Maybe YOUR family did not but plenty of others do. You are in the minority of health conscious black families. Regardless, I find the author to be inspirational and insightful on the struggle that some women have had.

Jade
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

I agree.

Lin
Lin
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

Yeah… I can’t stand the, “I disagree because MY family does this and I have never been like this.”
While it may be true, you and your family are definitely not the majority. Most black women do put their weight and health on the back burner when it comes to their hair.
I remember last year, I had a soccer game in the rain, and the only other black female on the team started complaining about how the rain was going to ruin her hair that she had spent three hours on the night before.

Dani
Dani
8 years ago
Reply to  Lin

Agree!

Jami
Jami
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

I agree, Demoiselle. I don’t know the percentage of black women that have a BMI of normal, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, and maybe the current BMI chart doesn’t exactly fit us, but I have seen too many black women with extreme belly fat and that has NOTHING to do with being “thick” and “curvy.” NOTHING. I was always blessed to never have to exercise until age 32, then my naturally high metabolism started to decline. And I didn’t immediately compensate for the decline with exercise and several years later, today, I will have to work my butt off to… Read more »

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

I agree

hehe
hehe
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

Thank you! I’m reading some of these comments and rolling my eyes, like are we really going to play dumb? We know that the majority of black women are overweight, and health problems and that Americans as a whole have horrible eating habits and live a sedentary lifestyle. It’s not like she said stop focusing on your hair fat a*S and focus on ur weight.

MJ Labonte
MJ Labonte
8 years ago
Reply to  hehe

+++1
I love this article and It is a really a problem among black communities across the globe. I am from a very healthy family as well and genetically we are all on the more petite side but I agree with the writer. I am from Ghana and over there, hair is definitely a higher priority over health and weight.

Dani
Dani
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

Agree.

amber
amber
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

+ 1

shannon
shannon
8 years ago
Reply to  demoiselle

I’m with you 100%. It’s like, really? Regardless of how fit YOU are, everyone knows a sista who doesn’t want to “sweat her hair out” by exercising or doing anything else that will work up a sweat.

Bridget
Bridget
8 years ago

Absolutely love this article! I workout practically every day and my hair always looks more fierce after the workout. Having natural hair gives me a freedom that I never experienced with relaxed hair. Although I don’t have a weight problem, I know that there is a high percentage of obesity in the black community. Yet, there is a great emphasis (as stated by the author) towards hair. It is a reality in the black community. I have numerous female family members who are overweight but their hair is always on point. However, you can’t get them to the gym for… Read more »

Vick
Vick
8 years ago

Our culture is the biggest proponent of an eating disorder that no one wants to even recognize as an eating disorder firstly, regardless of hair texture. I do agree with the article though. A lot.

Leslie@ The tale of going natural

As someone with natural hair and is plus sized.… I don’t know how I feel about this article. The tone of it makes me feel like, everyone is real quick to jump on a black woman’s hair, but not say anything about her size. I’ve been heavy almost all my life. My hair was never the first thing to get me the side eye (as busted as it was at times growing up). If I went to get a plate of food, or a piece of candy, that is what got people to talk behind my back. I know she… Read more »

Jojo
Jojo
8 years ago

Congratulations on your weight loss. I think the author is saying that we shouldn’t let our hair control our efforts to have a healthy and active lifestyle. Props to you for treating your hair & body with the love they each deserve. Thats what its all about.

FYI, critical people will always find something to criticize. Keep up the great work and never mind the haters

keenylicious
keenylicious
8 years ago

i wish ppl would learn the difference b/w someone observing a trend among ppl, and someone claiming that it applies to ALL ppl…

i don’t think she’s saying that ALL black ppl are more concerned with hair that fitness, but it’s obviously a very common mind set in the black community. if it doesn’t apply to you, that’s great, i see no reason to get so worked up over someone voicing an observation theyve made over the years…

Onebyd42
Onebyd42
8 years ago

This is an excellent article and I will fully admit that in the past when I was relaxed I would definitely put my hair over my health in the sense that I would not work out whenever I got my hair done and I would try to stretch that style for weeks which meant I wouldnt work out for weeks. When I really focused & put my health above my hair, I lost about 25 lbs and looked the best I have in years and all it took was eating in moderation and working out. Fast forward to today and… Read more »

LaNeshe
8 years ago

I think it really comes down to the fact that in our culture, when women of other cultures would be bashed as being fat, we can still be looked upon as being “thick.” There is more pressure in other cultures to be thin, and often times in unhealthy ways. There needs to be a balance. We can appreciate curves when they are there, but we just need to make sure health is a priority as well. AND hair is a lot easier to change than health.

MJ Labonte
MJ Labonte
8 years ago
Reply to  LaNeshe

+++++1

YannaBlue
YannaBlue
8 years ago

Loved it!

MJ Labonte
MJ Labonte
8 years ago

I haven’t read the article yet but I just wanna say real quick, I heart Genevieve Nnaji and I’m loving this photo of her!

Nia
Nia
8 years ago

If you feel the article isn’t valid to you… don’t read it. This may hit home with someone and they deserve to see it.

Bumper
Bumper
8 years ago

I agree with the author, although this does not personally apply to me as I am a size 8 UK(I think that’s a 4 US). I am always perplexed when I see obese women with intricately decorated nails and fly hairstyles — I just wish they would put that much effort into their health.

LaNeshe
8 years ago
Reply to  Bumper

While I agree with the need for health to be a priority I think it’s unfair to say to someone with fly hair and decorated nails “why don’t you put that much effort into your health” because taking care of hair and nails is a much easier process than losing weight, it’s also a much slower processes.

773natural
773natural
8 years ago

This article is right on time! It is unfortunate that we as a people like to turn a deaf ear to things when it isn’t what we want to hear. We as a people have developed the ability to turn things around on the next person or make sorry sheet thin excuses for our actions and habits. I think this article is very informative and if anything hopefully will generate conversations where sistas will begin to have dialogue about Obesity. It isn’t a cute thing AT ALL and it surely isn’t healthy! We have allowed ourselves to justify our unhealthy… Read more »

misha
8 years ago

2 things 1. i think we should be encourages each other to make little changes around our diet and exercise. why make it seem like you can only lose weight if you’re dripping with sweat and pumping weights? for me, i only had to make little changes… like walking more, eating real food as opposed to edible food like substances. i went from a size 12 to a size 6. all you really need to do is up your mobility — simply move more. i don’t like being drenched in sweat, especially since i take my lunch breaks at work… Read more »

funkystarkitty50
funkystarkitty50
8 years ago

It’s about doing what is right for you. How someone wears their hair is a personal choice just as whether someone wants to do something about their weight and overall fitness is a personal choice. For some people, it’s easy to do and for others it’s difficult. I’m a runner,practice Yoga and Pilates and light weight training. Being active has always been a priority for me. On the other hand, some of the people I know tell me that they can’t put that much work into exercise because of their hair–they don’t want to learn to swim, etc. In the… Read more »

s.m.
s.m.
8 years ago

wow this is an awesome article! i’m sitting here now currently a very statuesque and curvy 215 pounds ( size 14 on my frame), and just realizing that I “check in” on about 3 hair blogs not including obsessive youtube hair tutorials each day. Not 1 fitness or health site comes to mind. Priorties mixed up indeed!!!! I’ve also been avoiding sweat eventhough I’ve been natural for 10 years. My twistouts don’t hold up when I sweat. I have a lot of work to do!!!mentally, emotionally, and physically. Thanks Erika for the wakeup call. God Bless you.

Herbsistah
8 years ago

This Sistah is right! Not every family has fitness fanatics, but every family has Hair fanatics! This is why I speak to Women on Womb Health @ Hair Shows, b/c, Women transmit culture! Our habits & unspoken transmission of values permeate our lives for-ever or until we do some questioning of our values. I see this same issue with Women’s Womb Health. Many women have excessive cycles, bleeding profusely for weeks & months, have incredible cramps & discharges that are excessive or smelly & they keep going.…The woman may go to the Dr., but when he tells her crazy info,… Read more »

SassyNOLa
SassyNOLa
8 years ago

Interesting. With the rise of the natural hair movement, I’ve actually seen quite an uptick in folks concentrating on being healthier in all aspects of their lives (e.g., eating, relationships, mental health, etc.). Especially concerning exercise, being natural has given many black women ease of mind when working out. So this article seems very out of left field. Now previously, black women were definitely putting their blow-outs over their exercise… but that’s not the issue I’m seeing right now. Especially since folks are making the connection between healthy bodies and healthy hair. Maybe it depends on the region of the… Read more »

sugadiva
sugadiva
8 years ago

This article is about perspective and looking at things differently. I grew up overweight and I knew that having my hair looking good was one of the few things I still had going for me while I get over my weight issues. If I couldn’t look good in clothes, my hair, make up and shoes had to be on point. So I understand what the writer is trying to say about making plans around your hair and not around your health. I also understand what she means about comments people make behind your back. I had grown used to the… Read more »

naima
naima
8 years ago

thank you sassy nola. this is as you say, “interesting.” i’m seeing more natural afro hair all over atlanta! i suspect a lot of black woman have been losing their hair anyway for reasons you all know about. seems to me that the healthier we become in mind/body, the better our hair and the more creative we become with our own standards of beauty and acceptance not only of our ‘black looks’ but the looks of all others not our own. i guess we begin to really see ourselves and others in context, and place less emphasis (perhaps) on the… Read more »

Ronnie
Ronnie
8 years ago

I want to speak on swimming. Ladies, swimming is a matter of life and death. It is. First off, there is an alarming number of Black women that can’t swim because they don’t want to mess up their hair (some of the “naturals” too — especially the ones that “heat-train”). I am sure that if some of the Blacks who drowned during Hurricane Katrina knew how to swim they might be alive today. Their loved ones might be alive today because they would have been able to save them. During these uncertain times of climate change, flooding is a reality… Read more »

Jami
Jami
8 years ago
Reply to  Ronnie

Ronnie, Would you be interested in starting a non-profit centering on this issue?

Angela
Angela
8 years ago
Reply to  Ronnie

Your post made me realize that now I can go swimming without the old fears of chlorine breaking off my relaxed hair(myth?) Of course, I would need to learn how to swim. I took lessons(twice) as a child and couldn’t advance past floating or the fear of water seeping under my swimming cap. Thanks for giving me another new year’s resolution.

Ce Ce
Ce Ce
8 years ago

I have heard people complain about not getting their hair messed up and using it as a real terrible excuse for not exercising. I am overweight, but I am in the process of losing weight. I am starting to feel GREAT! Even when I was relaxed I worked out. I wore protective styles as a relaxed head and as a natural I wear protective styles. I rinse when needed and shampoo/condition weekly. I make sure that I exercise at least 5 times a week 45 minutes per exercise session. Being natural is a choice to be healthy. I lost chunks… Read more »

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[…] the word is all around us. Some take great pleasure in telling us what we should be doing. We should live a healthier lifestyle. We should practice a specific philosophy. We should be more like them. The […]

Corey

I am a trainer by profession…and I’ve had clients who relate directly to this article. I’ve had one client in particular who used to tell me about how her hairdresser was complaining that she had ‘sweat out her style’. She used to half-ass it in the gym, but then feel bad that she wasn’t losing fat as quickly as those around here. She only start losing weight when she stopped complaining about that, and started prioritizing getting her sweat on. It did take a lot of introspection and reprogramming however… as she was socialized to think in a manner similar… Read more »

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[…] Twisted Priorities? Among Black Women Why Doesn’t Weight Get … And I also think the lack of emphasis on weight is less due to health being a lesser priority and more to do with the classification of obesity as “thickness,” where thick=sexy. Reply. BrooklynCoily 4 . According to your stat (66% of woman are obese) although your and my experiences are valid, we are the minority. While the . After being pregnant and working my way back to ‘fly’ twice (my youngest is 10 months old), I know it’s not easy, but I love it. My hair will never… Read more »

Mrs. Ray
Mrs. Ray
7 years ago

Crazy I was Just thinking about this! But didn’t won’t to post it, because I didn’t won’t to offend anyone on my page! Well said!!!!

ShadowQueen
ShadowQueen
7 years ago

Let me tell you, I worked at a gym. And although my manager never said it, he had nothing but bangers behind the front desk. And God forbid he hadn’t seen us in the gym working out in awhile- he would politely hound us to set a good example for the customers. This was an urban gym in a primarily Black and Hispanic community. When the owners decided they would try and enforce a no head scarf rule- things went left real quick. Black women primarily and a few Hispanic women were very pissed. Especially the ones who would come… Read more »

reese
reese
7 years ago

You have just told the story of my young life. Thanks for this article!

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