Everywhere we look we see celebrities with long, shiny, thick, perfect heads of hair. From Kim Kardashian West to the Victoria’s Secret runway and everywhere in between, hair extensions have gone mainstream. Historically, hair has been bought and sold by those looking to make a small profit to aristocrats almost exclusively. Slaves in ancient Europe during the Roman Empire would sell their hair or even have it shorn involuntarily for use in wigs and hairpieces for the glitterati and cognoscenti of the time. Most prized was blonde hair, as it was rare and hard to come by. As this was long before the nuclear strength bleaches of today that can make anyone a bottle blonde.
Flash forward to today, where the industry is booming and hair comes from often unexpected places. Take for example, the origin of hair sold under the name of “Indian Silky Remy”. Remy is a designation for human hair, and the Indian Silky nomenclature comes from the hair’s origin – the temples of South India where the hair is given as a form of offering to the divine. The hair is then sold for profit, netting the most frequented temple nearly $7M USD per annum.
Ethicality a debate for sure, as those making the pilgrimage to the temple likely didn’t anticipate their hair would find a new home in the USA as part of Kim Kardashian’s hairstyle of the 24 hour news cycle. The temple hair is puzzlingly some of the most ethically sourced hair, as we’ll find out in this documentary about the origins of hair extensions – many women in developing nations in South East Asia and abroad are selling their locks for a way out of their circumstances….quite ironically to women who buy them to attach to their own hair for cosmetic purposes.