People’s hair is an influential thing, especially in this modern era where looks are of principal priority. Many people claim that hair is the best representation of their individuality. This is why many women and men spend most of their time grooming themselves and making sure that their hair is as perfect as any accessory, jewellery, or piece of clothing they wear. Indeed, as of today, hair is no longer just a symbol; rather, it is deemed as one of the most important elements in the business industry where physical appearance often dictates a person’s career. No wonder why the human hair trade in China is currently booming, making the said country one of the leading exporters of hair and hair products.
Even though it is true that hair is an unusual product to export, in China, it is seen as an object of great value. This is why many retailers refer to it as ‘black gold’.
Hair is one of the chief products China exports aside from its oriental rugs, ancient medicines, and herbal teas. In the eastern province of Anhui called Taihe, exports of hair have rapidly escalated this year so much so that it is now being referred to as one of China’s must have items. As a matter of fact, Taihe is currently widely known for being the present home for over four hundred hair manufacturers. It is because of the Taihe vendors and other exporters of hair in the East of China why the country is the world’s biggest exporter of hair at present.
Taihe vendors process hairs into a variety of patterns and styles, allowing it to become wigs, Afros, and extensions in different parts of the world. The first step of the whole process is disinfection. The hairs are disinfected inside two massive barrels that hold steaming water. After being immersed in hot water, the clumps of hair are stirred by workers using paddles; then, the hairs are dyed in different colours. Immediately after being dyed, hairs are put inside ovens to dry and later sewn into hair extensions.
Although the hair industry is currently prevailing in the business sphere, it also has its dark side. According to hair historian Caroline Cox, hair export is actually a form of exploitation which takes advantage of those women who are so poor that they fail to treasure one of their greatest assets. It is because of this why it can be observed that most hair sales usually come from villages that are impoverished and deprived. Back in 2006, it has been reported that there are men in India who coerce their wives to sell hair in exchange for money. In other cases, slum children are tricked into shaving their heads for toys. What is worse is that there are so many prisoners being forced to shave their heads in order to have their hair sold (Khaleeli, 2012). Indeed, despite being successful, human hair trades are still being critiqued by many.
The hair industry is a reflection of the society people live in today. It reflects the changes when it comes to people’s needs and wants. It exhibits how people’s perception and standard of beauty have changed over the years; but despite all these, the general public still has to remember the ethical issues that come along with the success of the human hair trade industry.
Burrows, T. (2014). Inside China’s Human Hair Factory where Tailor-made Wigs are Made for Sale across the World.
Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2724726/Inside-
Khaleeli, H. (2012). The hair trade’s dirty secret. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/