Warning: I’m gonna say “fuck” a lot in this post.
While minding my business a couple of weeks ago, the topic of black women, fitness and hair came up. After I dug a bit, I found the following articles:
“Dr. Amy McMichael, the study’s senior researcher and a dermatologist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, based the study on her own experiences: “As an African-American woman, I have that problem, and my friends have that problem. So I wondered if my patients had that problem,” she told Reuters Health.”
“Two out of every five African-American women avoid exercise because of concerns about their hairstyles, a study has found.”
My educated response:
Do we ignore the fact that this study was done at a dermatology clinic? Should we throw out the possibility that a woman at a dermatology clinic just might be there for scalp issues, therefore ignoring the fact that the additional hair washing which accompanies workouts may be problematic?
Here’s what we can’t ignore: All of the women were black. All 103 of them. Let’s change ”Two out of every five African-American women,” to “41 of the 103 cherry picked.” Beauty Jackson has a pet peeve, and that pet peeve is sloppy research. Every single teacher I have would have given her a big fat D for this unethical “research.” I know, because they gave me D’s all the time for exactly this type of laziness.*
Even New York Magazine acquiesced:
“While the unique characteristics of African-American hair shouldn’t be shrugged off here, it’s also true that many non-black women forgo exercise for hair-related reasons. A quick poll of Cut staffers shows that, regardless of ethnicity, we have all skipped workouts to prolong good hair days.”
Not any woman – black, white or aquamarine – in the history of EVER has gone to the salon and then gone to the gym directly afterward on purpose. Not. In the history. Of ever. The reaction on The Infamous Twitter ranged from the apologetic, “Well, I mean…you can’t argue with that. We all know SOMEONE like that,” to the bold, “Oooh, girl that’s true, because see, my baby cousin don’t like to work out because she got her hair did.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite response, “Bitch, please.”
Because it’s bullshit. I recently decided that I would not quietly speak recklessly about “black girl stuff,” without producing some serious receipts. Dr. McMichaels had none. Maybe she should research, “Do birds of a feather avoid the gym together?” There are black women who don’t work out because of hair. There are also black women like Erika Kendall of A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss. She’s encouraging and inspiring, and her hair is more magnificent than anything you can hope to see in your life. There is also Black Girls Run! which proactively takes on the CDC statistic that four out of five black women are overweight or obese. A black woman inspired me to train for Iron Girl. There is a 60-year-old sister who runs past my bus stop every day the good Lord sends.
I have embraced the gym, and I love it! Taking care of myself has become its own reward. Know what else? My hair is the fucking bomb. Ask about me. And if that’s not enough, there is a gym at my gig I have seen five women frequent the gym. Three are black and two are white. We’re all in there sweating out our hair, not giving a fuck. Can I be Dr. McMichael for the day and say that only 40% women who go to the gym are white? Or is that irresponsible? Didn’t think so. Do better, McMichaels, HuffPo, New York Mag and anyone else who fed into that drivel.
*I’m slightly pissed off. If this what passes for research, I could have had a career as a scientist my damn self.