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Why must a black woman choose between her hair and health?

Welcome to Transformation Tuesday and I wanted to talk about something different today.  I can’t and won’t deny the fact that I’m a black woman and once upon a time, I didn’t want to work out because it would mess up my hair.  This blog post may not appeal to you or be something you can’t relate to so it’s ok to skip this one if you want.  But for now, I must keep talking.

(Afterthought inserted here) I want to preface this blog post by saying that our hair is not more important than our health. I am writing this because I know this is an issue that I know has crossed the minds of a lot of women.

We're going out of town tomorrow so we had so meal prep a day earlier. We don't want to be rushing we get back home. #mealprep #webeatfat #weightlossjourney #weightloss #fitfluential #newyear

Needless to say, there have been a lot of side buns and long braids in my life lately because it’s been easy and something I could deal with.

As a young black female, it was drilled into my head that keeping your hair nice was a necessity.  I use to spend my Saturdays crammed in a corner all day WAITING to get my hair done.  Numerous hours of time and dollars later, there was no way I was going to mess up my hair by sweating.  I truly believe this is why my mom was very adamant about me not playing sports when I was younger because I would eventually sweat out that relaxer. It is something I’ve always carried with me, even to this moment.

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When I started my weight loss journey, I knew something was going to have to give.  I felt like I had to make a choice.  I felt like I needed to make a choice between keeping my hair prim and proper or working out.  It was the choice that I made but I’m different.  I don’t work in the corporate world.  I work for a small and casual company.  My job doesn’t involve nice business meetings or full day schedules of having to be put together.  I somehow manage to make it work; even though it’s not the same.

For those people, I think it’s sometimes harder to take the option.  Caring for my hair takes a lot of time and energy.  It’s not just a hop in the shower and go type thing.  I work out every day, sometimes twice a day.  Do you know how long I would spend doing my hair?

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It was hard for me.  For so long, I was the “fat” girl but I had pretty hair.  People knew that.  My hair became a part of my identity.  I write this to let people know, I know this thing that doesn’t seem like a big deal is actually a big deal.  It’s a struggle.  

A black women's struggle with working out and having nice hair

In February I decided that I was going to drop some major bucks on my hair so that I could look halfway decent.  There’s no point in losing the weight and still not being happy with the way I look.  I became very defensive about my hair when others would say something about it.  I would go into my speech about how I sweat out my hair in 45 minutes and workout twice a day.  I would always mention that I get paid to motivate and inspire people to work out; my hair was the last thing on my mine.  Maybe, I wasn’t being so honest about that.

I’ve talked to so many people who have expressed not wanting to work out because it would mess up their hair.  It’s not a silly thing; this is a real problem.  I get it!

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So I could run a marathon and a few hours later, I could have semi-decent looking hair.  It was just something that was important to me and I feel like it’s boosted my confidence a little bit.  It’s amazing how one small thing can spark something so much bigger.

I thought maybe it was time for me to respond to this question that I get some frequently.  So yes, when I started my weight loss journey I did feel like I had to choose between my hair and working out.  That was the sacrifice I was willing to make for something better.  That may not be the option that you agree with or works for you.  I just did what I had to do to see my goal through until the end.  I hope you found this helpful.

 

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  • This is a really interesting read to me, especially as a caucasian woman unfamilar with different hair. I think you’re hair looks great!

  • Lisa

    I was so hoping you had the magic solution!! I am a Caucasian woman with thick hair and I only wash my hair once every 3 days and wish I could go longer, so I feel as though I understand what you are talking about. My hair is short now and I’m not exercising to the point of sweating because to get that hot would mean my hair would have to be washed and restyled. Having longer hair was better for me, because putting the hair in a ponytail seemed to control most of the sweat problems.

    This is a real problem and I appreciate you discussing it!