UnitedHealthcare today announced the winners of the third annual “Hair Fitness” competition, which seeks to promote styles that facilitate healthy and fit African American women.
The company hosted the competition in partnership with the Bronner Bros. at the International Hair Show on Sunday, Aug. 5, a trade show that draws 60,000 hair stylists from across the nation.
Linette Battle of Palm Beach, Fla., won first place. Battle received the grand-prize of $5,000 and a trophy for outstanding design and execution. Runners-up included Camilla Brown, who won the second-place prize of $2,000; and Elisha Heard, who received a $500 prize. Tiffany Thames and Keysha Quinn rounded out the top-five finishers.
“I’m thrilled to have been recognized at this year’s Hair Fitness contest. I’ve been leading a healthy lifestyle and talking to my clients about it for years, so it’s wonderful to see a company like UnitedHealthcare helping to bring attention to this issue. I can’t wait to share what I learned with my clients and community,” said Battle.
Battle was among more than 50 stylists competing before a crowd of 1,500 to showcase innovative, stylish and exercise-friendly hairstyles. The goal of the Hair Fitness competition is to encourage professional hair stylists to create hairstyles that are easy to maintain and empower their clients to make exercise a part of their daily routine.
The Hair Fitness competition, now in its third year, was inspired by studies that showed many African-American women avoid certain fitness activities in order to maintain their hairstyles, as well as the alarming rates of obesity among African Americans. According to the 2011 edition of America’s Health Rankings®, the prevalence of obesity among African Americans exceeds 30 percent in 36 states and the District of Columbia, which dramatically outpaces obesity rates for whites and poses serious health consequences for those affected – including diabetes and heart disease.
Also appearing at the event were Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Surgeon General of the United States; celebrity hair stylist Elgin Charles, known as the “Emperor of Hair” and star of VH1’s Beverly Hills Fabulous; and Reed Tuckson, M.D., former Washington, D.C. Public Health Commissioner and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group. WNBA Washington Mystics player Ashley Robinson also spoke at the event.
“We applaud everyone who participated in this year’s Hair Fitness competition for the important work they do and the trust they have earned in their communities,” said Dr. Tuckson. “We look forward to continuing our work with Bronner Bros. and stylists across the country to help African-American women enjoy great style and great health at the same time.”
The stylists were judged on the technical execution of the styles, originality, suitability and head contour, and new ideas. Contest categories included: low-impact workout, which involves little to no sweat and requires only one shampoo/condition per week; moderate-impact workout, which involves modest sweat and requires 1-2 shampoo and conditions per week; and high-impact, which involves profuse sweating and requires 2-3 shampoo/conditions per week.
“These stylists showed great ingenuity and style in their creations,” said Charles. “They also demonstrated a deep commitment to finding ways to help their clients stay healthy while looking fabulous.”
In addition to the contest, Sunday’s event included a “Stylin’ Healthier Futures” class attended by more than 100 stylists. During the class, Charles and Bronner Bros master hairstylist Sherita Cherry demonstrated hairstyles that balance beauty and an active lifestyle. In addition, a health professional educated stylists on how to introduce healthy living practices to their customers.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.