U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is enlisting hair stylists in the national fight against obesity. According to BET.com, she’s asked them to talk about exercise with their patrons and to help them come up with hairstyles and care regimens to encourage the co-existence of exercise and beautiful hair.
Benjamin, who spoke recently at the Bonner Bros. International Hair Show in Atlanta, said there shouldn’t be a negative connection between a beautiful hairdo and exercise.
According to Mother Nature Network, Benjamin said that “many women… invest lots of time and money in chemical relaxers, straighteners, perms and other treatments – the effects of which become undone by sweat, humidity and wind – problems women will run into with any type of exercise.”
“I know that was an issue for me. I didn’t want to mess up my hair. You sweat a lot in your hair and it changes your hairstyle completely,” she said.
Many professional women have confirmed her comments in the last week, including, according to nytimes.com, Dr. Amy McMichael, a professor of dermatology who led a study at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
According to the study of 103 Black women, about a third of those surveyed cited hair concerns as the reason for getting less exercise than the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines which recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
Benjamin said, “Being an African-American woman myself, I have to go through those same trials and tribulations when I exercise, so I started to realize that this is probably a barrier for many women.
Benjamin said she understands there are other barriers to exercise, including being tired at the end of the day, working more than one job and single parenthood; but in spite of such other barriers, her speech to the hairstylists was nevertheless directed at addressing the barrier created by hair care concerns. Benjamin has taken some heat for mentioning this focus, which is a concern of many African American women. According to nytimes.com, a harsh criticism was raised by Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. “I don’t know whether the surgeon general’s role is to engage in smaller issues like this. It strikes me as bizarre,” he said.
But BET.com cites a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health statistic that four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. Benjamin suggested, according to BET.com, a new strategy could make a difference.
“We need to spend a little bit more time on our hair. I exercise at night. That’s my solution: Exercise at night so when I finish, I can be at home.”
Benjamin told the hair stylists that she wants to emphasize that health care is a whole life activity and many people and situations influence our actions and decisions.
“Health care doesn’t just occur in the doctor’s office–it occurs in the home, work place, where you worship. … What better place than the hairdresser?” she said.