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Hindu Locks Keep Human Hair Trade Humming

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  • Hindu Locks Keep Human Hair Trade Humming

    GLOBALIZATION'S PERSONAL LINK

    Hindu Locks Keep Human Hair Trade Humming

    By Britta Sandberg
    February 19, 2008

    Halle Berry uses hair extensions. So does Angelina Jolie. Much of the hair they end up with comes from women who offer up their locks to Hindu gods in Indian temples. SPIEGEL followed one pilgrim's hair from Bangalore to Munich.Hair for Lord VenkateshwaraA Holy BusinessThe Largest Barbershop in the World'H.B. Curly'Sunday Times'An Honor to Wear this Woman's Hair'

    Verena Franke has spent the last four hours undergoing an ultrasound treatment that presses Manibhen Yashwanthpur's hair into her own hair. When the process is complete she sports a substantial mane of hair, German at the top and Indian at the bottom.

    "Super," says salon owner Renate Klingspor, "you don't see any color difference, no transition at all. That's exactly the way it should be." Klingspor wears a T-shirt with the name of her salon in rhinestones, jeans with a rhinestone belt, and blonde hair -- with extensions, of course. She describes herself as a "pioneer in the German hair extension world." She says that she discovered the ultrasound device used to attach the hair extensions in 2000. "That's when I realized that this was the machine we needed," she says, sounding like an aid worker who has discovered a new method of water purification.

    Her customer, Verena Franke, now looks a bit like Pocahontas. "It's really hot," she says, pulling on the foreign hairs. 138 of the 150 skeins have already been attached. The extensions last for six months. By then a person's own hair will have grown so that the hair extensions no longer sit properly in place. The foreign hair is removed and discarded. It could, of course, be reused, but the used-car principle doesn't exist in this industry. "Nevertheless, it's definitely worth it," says Verena. "Somehow it makes you more feminine."

    Women with hair extensions normally never discover where the hair actually comes from. But it's different in this case. When Franke hears the story of Manibhen, she gazes at the photos of the Indian woman for a long time, photos depicting her with a full head of hair and shaved bald, alone and with her family. Then she utters an astonishing sentence: "Strictly speaking, it's really an honor to be wearing this woman's hair."

    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...536349,00.html
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