TCW - Life, Style & Wellness

My Image is Fine. Just Help Me with My Hair, Please

For years I regarded Kali Raoul as my trusty hair stylist. Kali taught me to love my hair - which is no small thing for a Black Woman. And for years, every time I visited, Kali shared passionately about the variety of services that her company had available for me. She talked about holistic offerings that help people sculpt their image: etiquette coaching, wardrobe styling, color analyzing, make-up consulting and of course, hair styling services. Every time she talked about...

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Kenly said:

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As an African American woman and physician, I would like to raise the issue of our health. Some say "Image is everything" but is it worth our health?

We spend over $450,000 in our lifetime on beauty products and services in our attempt to find our "beauty". When I read your column I could not help but think what do we get for that money? Is it worth it?

As a physician, I understand the need to have a great public image. As you can imagine, when I first meet a patient I have to overcome (not all the time) those that cannot believe that I am their physician. They say things like "Oh I thought you were the nurse". "You are too young and pretty to be a doctor". Or my favorite...."Your family must be very proud of you" (I wonder if they say that to my white male colleagues). So I understand that I must look and act a certain way to get the same instant respect that others get.

That being said, I do think we hurt ourselves with our obsession with our image and "personal brand". We do things to our hair that is borderline crazy. We use chemicals (that have not been researched for any associated health risks) to straighten our hair. In fact, the newest rage "Brazilian Blowout" has serious health risks...but since it is in the name of "beauty" it is fine.

I would hope that if readers are going to use services like the one you mention, that they will be provided information on the ingredients in the beauty products/services that they receive. Just today their was a report in the Wisconsin Medical Journal demonstrating the disparity in the death rate for African American Women with breast cancer. There have been some ongoing discussions that there is a potential tie between our beauty products and breast cancer. So we must start educating ourselves regarding the health risks that come with our beauty treatments.

I do appreciate your column but I would hope in the future that those like yourself that have the ability to reach and educate our mothers, sisters, cousins and daughters would raise the issue of health risks associated with beauty products and services. Real beauty is healthy beauty. That is a "personal brand" we should all embrace.

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