Fresh off Friday’s Olympic triple win for Jamaica’s running team with Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, Loc’d Life is in awe of the human athletic spirit. Loc’d Life is also celebrating Gabby Douglas, a U.S. gold medalist in gymnastics, and the first African American to do this.
While she gracefully won the gold for the U.S., the only thing that some focused on was her hair. She did flips, turns, and runs, and jumps—full routines that culminated into the gold—and all some could say was that she needed to get her hair done. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s 2012. When are we going to ever get over our self-hate about our natural hair?
Loc’d Life salutes Ms. Douglas on her wins. And I wholeheartedly believe that her accomplishments should not be overshadowed by the texture of her hair.
A health official recently commented that one of the main reasons African American women don’t exercise is because of their hair. Sad to say, for many of us, that is true.
Black women have always felt that we’ve had to hide our natural textures. After spending thousands of dollars on relaxers and touchups, we are forever chasing the ideal of bone-straight hair. Moisture will frizz it. Sweat will kill it. We’ve all heard the excuse, “I don’t want to sweat out my perm.” We’ve been told to cover our hair with bandanas during slavery. We invented the hot comb and the curling iron to straighten our kinks into straight submission. We’ve relaxed, jherri-curled, and texturized them into whole new categories, while waiting for our natural textures to be discovered.
If you are delaying or outright refusing to exercise just because of your hair, you’re doing yourself a disservice to your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re hair is relaxed, relax. If someone has something to say of any frizzy strand, know that you are not the one with the problem.
If you wear locs (which I’m sure you do if your reading this), they are the active person’s best friend. Locs are waterproof, sweatproof, windproof, and virtually frizz-proof. Many athletes choose locs as a style that fits whatever they do. If you need some pointers on how to pull off the active loc’d lifestyle, here’s a few tips:
- Ponytails are your friends. Locs can be heavy and hot when wet and when you perspire. Get covered rubberbands or other snag-free accessories to pull your locs off your face. You’ll feel cooler.
- Wear an updo style with lots of partings. This allows your scalp to breathe and dry as it perspires. (This is the one disadvantage to wearing ponytails: locs close to the scalp trap moisture until you take your ponytail down for a shampoo.)
- Get a good shampoo routine. Perspiration contains salt that dries out your hair. Rinse it out as often as you can after your exercise—whether it’s just a water rinse or a full shampoo. Get a good conditioner or a good oil to moisturize your locs when they’re wet and as they dry.
- A good twist and loc gel is also your friend. Get a gel that works for you to tame your new growth until you get to a loctician. You can retwist them yourself, too, by palm-rolling. Take each loc, apply a little gel and palm roll by using your palms to twist the base and shaft of the loc. (You should always twist your locs in the same direction.) You can also loc stitch the base with a latchhook after applying a little gel.
- Keep the kinks out of your mind. Marcus Garvey said it best: we really need to change our perceptions of what our hair can and should be. Don’t let others tell you that your locs look or feel bad.
Locs do solve the problem of looking good while you sweat. But when you lose that weight, get those sculpted arms or achieve that six-pack, you’ll really know what looks good, and it will have absolutely nothing to do with your hair.
I have decided to become more physically active myself by choosing to run the Chicago Marathon this October. I am running for Teach for America, an organization that brings teachers to inner-city schools. I’ll be proud to wear my locs throughout the 26.3 miles of the course, but I know that getting to the finish line will ultimately be the most beautiful thing.
BTW: Looking for more loc exercise tips? There’s an exercise and nutrition section in the printed edition of Loc’d Life, Volume 2. Get it today at www.locdlife.com. Click on the hpMagCloud link on our homepage.