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Everything can be bought and sold these days, and certain parts of our body are no exception. A Guardian report, published Sunday, October 28, examines the flourishing trade in hair, which conceals, he claims in the title, an obscure “secret”. Because the hair, these eye-catchers which “always exerted a powerful metaphorical attraction”, became “more than a symbol”: a “big business”, notes the British daily.

In the United Kingdom, more than 80 million euros are spent each year to obtain all types of hair extensions, making this country the third largest importer of strands behind the United States and China, according to Reuters . You can find the wholesale Brazilian hair vendors here to save your time. The same report reports a 160% increase in requests in Great Britain in twelve months, in 2010-2011. And this is only the beginning: the Guardian speaks of an “emerging market”, which does not know the crisis.

A dive into a London hairdressing salon, where full hair extensions are sold for 1,120 euros, reveals the motivations of some clients: one admits having started to adorn other people’s hair when, as a teenager , she wanted to play “copying stars like Christina Aguilera”, while the manager says “the UK’s passion for extensions started with Victoria Beckham”. The historian Caroline Cox sheds another light: for her, fashion has long been inseparable from falsehood (false breasts, false tans, false nails …): “The whole idea of ​​beauty is now based on the artificial and the urge to get rid of his humanity – pluck all the hair on his body, but put false hair on his head. “

However, behind this growing demand, few are those who “seem to be interested in the human beings where [this hair] comes from”. But it is here that the “dark side” of the beauty industry takes shape. Because in the majority, they “come from countries where long and natural hair remains a pledge of beauty, but where the women are poor enough to think of selling such an expensive asset”, relates the Guardian, citing in the first place China, the ‘India and Eastern Europe. In the New York Times, a supplier based in Ukraine explained: “They do not do it for fun. Usually only people who have one-off financial problems, in disadvantaged areas, sell their hair.”

With more worrying cases: in India, women and children would be forced to sell their hair, and gangs would even seize this traffic, reported in 2006 another article of the Guardian. In Russia, the Moscow Center for Prison Reform estimated that guards may have forcibly shaved and sold prisoners’ hair. For ethical reasons, some sellers prefer to turn to hair left as an offering in temples in India, in exchange for answered prayers, and resold by these same temples, most often at auction on the Internet. However, with very few guarantees as to the return of the benefits accrued to those who have dispossessed of their hair.