Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Thank you, India"

A Popular Blogger recently got hair extensions.
Posting about the experience she said, "Thank you, India". I'm assuming she is not thanking a stylist named India, but rather referring to the origin of the extensions.
I have never been a fan of hair extensions. I think they are a conspicuous expression of vanity. If you want long hair, grow it out! That is, unless you are a starlet or a supermodel or a rock-star. In her defense, Popular Blogger is an accident victim with resultant hair issues.
"Thank you, India" got me thinking about the hair industry. Where do all of those hairs, millions and billions of strands, come from? Whose head did that hair, now weaved and glued to your head, once live on ?

Every day, tens of thousands of Hindus make religious pilgrimages to temples.

There they pray and give thanks for their blessings. Desiring to demonstrate their devotion, they make a sacrifice to the goodness of their Gods. Many have no money to offer the gods; the most valuable thing they can give is their hair or the hair of their children.

At the temples, barbers are lined up 24 hours a day, wetting their razors and shaving the heads of visiting pilgrims.

With the popularity of hair extensions in the Western world, temples found they could sell the sacrificed hair to middle men in the hair extension industry for $200 to $300 a kilogram.

After sale, the hair is washed, brushed and combed by hand at a factory in Bangalore, before being shipped to factories where the color is removed and it is dyed a range of fashion colors. Now its value has jumped to $500 a kilogram, approximately 2.2 lbs. It is then sent to hair salons in more than 50 countries across the Western world, where women pay as much as $4,000 dollars for a longer, thicker, sexier head of hair.

The Indian women are able to make a sacrifice to their Gods, the temples make money, which they claim they use to support pilgrims and community programs, and the hair industry in the West has a new product to work with and make customers happy.

Why does this whole process bother me?

While the pilgrims might not feel exploited, there's no question that their hair is now a valuable commodity, and the hair extension industry is making some people very rich.

To me, it's like someone hanging out by the sacrificial altar, taking the remains and then selling fresh, lamb gyros.

Poor women in many areas, such as Burma, Spain, Eastern Europe and even the U.S., are selling their hair. The operative word being SELLING. The Indian women seem to me, to be exploited.

Read the highlighted links and tell me: What do YOU think?

I welcome all opinions!


Breezy said...

If you really want long hair.. grow your own! Vanity has a high price.. for ALL involved.

Barbara said...

I had hair extensions. My hair just won't grow. Believe me, if I could grow it, I would. However, in the end, it's much too much maintenance for fake hair and I stopped. I saw the light. But would I do it again? Probably.

Love your blog and your opinions. We do think pretty much the same! Thanks for checking out my blog.

nana_ang_poppaphil said...

This is not good is it? These women are doing something that is part of their religious beliefs and are being exploited..

I agree with Breezy, vanity does have a high price.

{B} said...

I think it's ridiculous...and yes, vain. I thought about a few extensions for my wedding and quickly denied the idea. It just wasn't me. I hope "thank you, India" is happy with her hair that came from poor exploited women...although I gather that she just doesn't care...I mean look at all the people that send her crap and she makes the comment "keep it coming" Plus she can't even DO what's the point?!

Barry Cann said...

I'm thinking I need to get in on this. I'll offer Native Americans money for their hair. I hear the casinos aren't doing so well this time of year anyway. Plus, I can still put up a sign that says "100 percent Indian hair!"

Brandon and Michelle Day said...

Um...First, let me say, the whole process is so sad how these people think they are donating to their god....and it ends up here. Second, you can take a stance like people do after watching "Blood Diamond" and promise to never buy from there again. However, to your comment "grow your own...sign of vanity" I have to challenge you to think...... as an african american, I use extensions in the summer to get braids. My hair doesn't grow... and the protection of my thick, sun consuming hair needs a break from daily breakage it experiences. I believe African American women wouldn't feel compeled to buy weave for their hair if the Western world wasn't so consumed with what is "beautiful" Growing up, I was consumed with images of ladies with LONG, BLOND hair and how popular they were. Short hair ladies don't get noticed by guys. Media, advetisement, models and tv, tell us that long is beautiful and if you want happiness, well then buy your hair.
Hence, why me going natural has been such a big accomplishment. Chris Rock did a great documentary and at the time I was ticked at Oprah for "telling our secrets" but now I realize that she did a favor to the world...... we need to step back and ask ourselves, "How can we promote beauty for everyone?" My hair is now natural and I love it. No chemicals, nothing.....and on the days that my hair is in its kinky curly state, I hear from my sister friends "You should straighten your hair" Why is straight hair beautiful?????? So....... I digress and say, people can't always grow their own hair. And they are not trying to be vain, they are just trying to live up to a standard and be accepted.

Patti Friday said...