Posted on August 30, 2011

Surgeon General Calls for Health over Hair

Anahad O’Connor, New York Times, August 25, 2011

The United States surgeon general has a new message for American women: It is O.K. to have a bad hair day.


The problem, [surgeon general] Dr. Benjamin said, is that many women–particularly black women, like herself–invest considerable amounts of time and money in chemical relaxers and other treatments that transform naturally tight curls into silky, straight locks. Moisture and motion can quickly undo those efforts, with the result that many women end up avoiding physical activity altogether.


But Dr. Benjamin and other researchers say that removing any barrier to physical activity is crucial to the health of American women, and in particular black women, a group that has a higher rate of obesity than any other demographic. According to government figures, nearly 50 percent of black women over age 20 are overweight or obese, compared with 33 percent of white women and 43 percent of Hispanic women.

When researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina sampled 103 black women from the area, they found that about a third exercised less because they were concerned it would jeopardize their hair. {snip}