Friday, December 19, 2008

The Origins of Human Hair

Bella Naija features a story on U.K. pop princess Jamelia's investigation into where human hair weaves and wigs come from. I'll give you 1 guess.

Okay, trite remarks aside, the article was interesting. By the end of it, Jameila vows never to wear any hair piece made from actual human hair, because much of the human hair trade involves exploitation of the hair donors - including under-paying for the hair, and getting the hair from supposed cultural practices (Not all human hair trade involves exploitation, mind you).

Some of the commenters believed that since hair grows back, it's no big deal. It's particularly not that serious because many of these women are South Asian and "their hair grows faster than ours." Hmmm, exploitation is exploitation.

I can understand the appeal of weaves: within a couple of hours (and without making any drastic changes to your own hair), you can have a dramatic makeover. What's not to love? However, when it stems from the desire for a more Euro-centric look to the denigration of your natural roots, that does bother me.

A few weeks ago, I made a change from my normal braided look and fixed a human hair weave. The change was great. The tautness all over my head was not. The wispy strands that kept getting into my mouth were most definitely not. Even worse was the heat at the back of my neck (Ore, how smart was it to get a long, heavy weave in this wilting December heat?). However, with hair, we take the good with the bad. After all, as that popular mantra goes: "beauty is pain."

What really spooked me was seeing a long grey strand of hair framing my face. That really brought it home to me that this was someone's real hair. All along, "human hair" to me was little more than a clinical-sounding term, which I could disassociate from being someone's real hair. Does that make any sense?

Then I thought about who this woman was, whose hair I was wearing; and the circumstances under which she gave this hair. I tend to think that there's much more to life than what we see on the surface. Hair is just hair is just hair? I don't know.


SongReach said...

I can relate! I once saw a documentary on E! that made me vow never to use human hair again, but time and views change. what i do now is to stay way from "Indian" human hair. I'm currently wearing a bohemian brazilian weave. very expensive and very natural...but I have some peace because I hope its not a shaved head from a hindu temple as well as plead the blood of Jesus on it. As Paul writes, if we consecrate things served to idols, we are liberated by what we allow.

Happy New Year to you!

Ore said...

Happy New Year to you too, SongReach!!

A bohemian Brazilian weave? I had to check online what that was. Apparently Christina Milan, Ciara and Rihanna have all worn it. Looks sleek.