Saturday 4 August 2018

Paris: Boulevard de l'Unpretty - Revisited.

Talking hair is not cheap
Hair is politics, or should I say political. It is also commercial, it is big business. Yet, it is quite personal, the choice of expression with or without hair is interesting and sometimes just left to the observation.
Then, you come to the real issue, the one of hair for black women. I was walking down the road on Boulevard de Strasbourg, just after the Saint Laurent Catholic Church on the left, before the street changes to Boulevard de Sebastopol and I observed something I had not seen before.
There were men stood in front of shops accosting women and doing everything to persuade them to come into the shops, black women that is, and these shops had dangling from every window and hook as you peered in from the shop windows and the doors, hair of every dark shade, ready to be used as augmentation of natural hair.
How long has this been going on?
Now, I have seen architectural works of the hair that I cannot fathom how much skill and time it has taken to put those creations on the heads of the wearers and they do not come cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
I have written of this section of Paris before, both sides of the street teeming like an African ghetto that even I feel too much of an outsider to be able to relate. Literally, every shop sells hair and cosmetics, and as they are all selling the same things, you do wonder about what makes each shop unique as competition is brisk, if not cutthroat, you probably need men to literally muscle in the customer off the street.
Travelled the world and the seven hairs
The hair, however, is a different story, having travelled off the shorn heads of poor people from the hinterland of Brazil and India, the hair has become the travelled dream of people who probably would never see miles beyond their locality for a lifetime.
The profits from these lengths of follicular fancy would hardly get to them. That is absorbed somewhere in the value chain by people who have probably become billionaires in the purveyance of this fleeting enhancement to beauty.
I would not know if there is a fair-trade hair construct that ensures a bit more of the profits of this arbitrage goes back to the source communities of the hair. That is another element of the opacity of capitalism.
Where’s the shampoo?
I guess for me, the only hair product I use is a razor and shaving gel if that counts as hair products. I shave my head just while I shave my beard, or whatever those itchy bristles are. It was funny and cheeky when my friend as he was using the shower ventured then declined. He then said he could not ask me for something I basically could not have. Shampoo!
That is another story. The trade in hair is about to get nasty and it is in the pulling of customers rather than of their hair.
Like TLC does say, “You can buy your hair if it won’t grow.”

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