Could hair really be the thing killing our weight loss goals?
The Olympics have put this little thought in my head. I mean, I love all the black girl dominance with people like Simone Biles and Simone Manuel. But with all the water and sweat (evil, viscous things they can be), I can’t help but wonder how this affects many of us black women. Hair vs. health. As simple as it seems, it’s not always an easy choice.
The Gabby Douglas hair situation
This is definitely one of the silliest issues to ever come up among the black female community (#blackgirlmagicfail). Gabby Douglas received a lot of criticism for her hair back in the 2012 Olympics, as many black women felt that her edges weren’t quite as “laid” enough. Those haters were dealt with by the logical social media antagonists and it seemed to be squared away. That was until 4 years later, when these people seemed to continue to have nothing to do with their lives and offered more criticism of her hair.
Seriously people? Gabby is a gymnast so obviously sweats a lot, which mean she naturally won’t have perfect hair. I mean, she does have other things to worry about like winning a once-in-a-life-time event and execute on the very thing she’s been perfecting her entire life.
But what is more startling about all of this is that it shows just how so many black women obsess about hair. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hair is a black woman’s thing and we wear it well. However, this becomes a major problem when we expect an athlete to do anything beyond the most basic hairstyle.
While y’all are talking bad about Gabby Douglas hair do y’all EVEN. HAVE. A PASSPORT. TO MAKE IT. TO RIO?!?!! pic.twitter.com/wIWh8NzSXJ
— Tacky Robinson (@Wiz_Khaleesha3) August 8, 2016
Hair done = “I’m not working out for a while”
We won’t even think about sweating when we get our hair done. I’ve seen it way too often. I’ve even been that girl, and still will that girl on specific occasions. But for so many of us, it takes over our lives and could be a huge reason why we don’t reach our weight loss goals. We literally don’t work out regularly, and it’s because we don’t want to destroy a nice flat ironed style or freshly sculpted curls. Hair over everything for special occasions a few times a year? Cool. Hair over everything every other week? Not so cool.
What should we do with our hair instead?
I don’t have a great solution for this. Some say natural hair is the answer, but honestly, a lot of those styles get really frizzy when you sweat. My go-to option were weaves for a while, but that becomes cumbersome and expensive, and can even look worse when you sweat So for now, I don’t do any special styles with my hair. I lean toward a nice bun and an occasional puff. Gel stays on deck, and I keep it simple. What I won’t do, however, is let my body suffer because my hair is not all the way on fleek. Fleek-ish (or not even close to fleek, but passable) will do for now.
Simone Manuel being the first black women to win an individual medal in swimming
This one came out of nowhere for me since the media focused almost entirely on Phelps and Ledecky. So when I saw this black girl in the water, completely killing it at the 100m freestyle, I was speechless.
Loved this moment from Simone Manuel. You couldn’t help but be extremely proud of her.
But then I faced the reality that this occasion is pretty ironic since it’s monumental primarily because there are so few black people that swim at this level. I’m always surprised that so many of my close friends (and even my hubby) can’t swim. I think black parents in general are more cautious when it comes to the water (for lots of reasons that pre-date them), so they tend to shy their children away from swimming. It’s all the right intentions but it sucks for all these non-swimming adults of today.
But let’s keep it real.
That’s only one reason. Many of us don’t swim because we don’t want to get our hair wet. Hair is, again, the reason that we’re not doing something active. When I was a kid, there was always a couple of girls at the pool say that they can’t get their hair wet. I was appalled. How the hell are you going to have any kind of fun in the pool and you have to worry about something so restrictive as getting wet when you’re umm…in the pool!
Me at like 9 years old in a very short bout on the swim team. I was honestly a pretty crappy swimmer, but it was cool that our team was made up entirely of black kids from Detroit. And specifically full of girls that were not worried about their hair!
But it continues today as adults. I’ve even had to limit my activity at the pool based on my hair. I once got a little lashing from one of my past stylists for getting my weave wet (like really? I can’t even get someone else’s hair wet?) and told that I need to avoid putting my head in the water at all. This is actually a pretty normal expectation.
Think of all the things were’re missing out on because of this water-hair phobia: swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, water sports (more on that later), playing in the pool with our kids, diving…the list goes on. And of course, all of these things involve being active, opposed to just laying around, being idle, failing all of the weight loss goals. That’s what so many of us are currently doing and it sucks.
This is not an exaggeration.
Hopefully, people like Simone are giving us the motivation to say “screw the hair” and enjoy some activity in the water. (But real talk, I did wonder what kind of product Simone is using to keep her hair so healthy with all that swimming!)
There’s a black girl playing water polo…shut the front door!
Ashleigh Johnson is the goalie on the U.S. water polo team and is probably the first black person to ever play this sport. Ever. In life.
Most of us don’t even know what a game of water polo looks like (Is the “polo” a thing like a hockey stick? Or is it the ball? Seriously, what is this sport?) In either case, I’m definitely feeling motivated to watch it this time, which is exactly the point I’m making here: There’s so much cool shit out here in the world of sports, and we will miss it all while we’re worried about edges!There's so much cool shit out here in the world of sports, and you will miss it while you're worried about edges!Click To Tweet
I don’t know if most high schools in the rest of the world have water polo teams, but my inner-city-majority-black-all-the-way-urban high school definitely did not. I also didn’t play it at the rec center or find the impromptu water polo game at my neighbors’ houses. I’m sure it’s a rare sport for anyone to play, regardless of race, but if black people are going to get any exposure to anything outside of basketball, football, track, and pom-pom squad, we’re going to have to make an effort. And there really isn’t any time for effort when it’s all being spent on pretty irrelevant things like hair.
So can we just agree to get over our hair?
Probably not. I love my people for always wanting to look good, and that includes having our hair laid. Just like any situation, this one is a matter of compromise, and if we’re going to be more active, we have to accept that our hair just may not be perfect. Slick edges and bouncy curls look good for a minute but they aren’t too helpful with helping us meet our weight loss goals.
What are your thoughts on your hair when it comes to working out? Does it get in the way or does it not bother you at all?