Desperate For Cash, Women Turn To Selling Their Hair In Online Hair Auctions
Age old wisdom says that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But sometimes you can be so broke, you can’t afford sugar to sweeten or the glass to drink your new concoction.
“Out of work for more than two years and facing eviction from her home, Hare recalled Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel and took to her computer. ‘I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from ‘Little Women,’ and she sold her hair,” the 35-year-old from Atlanta said. “I’ve always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I’ve actually had the idea to sell it because I’m in a really tight jam right now.” The mother of two posted pictures of her 18-inch auburn mane on www.buyandsellhair.com, asking at least $1,000 and receiving responses within hours.”
Back in the day folks used to host rent parties and sell fish dinners, plasma and weed in those emergency situations; but according to the Bloomberg article, the sluggish labor market has meant desperate times for some folks like Hare, who in addition to her hair, is also considering selling breast milk to make ends meet. In fact, the article quotes Nicolas Colas, chief market strategist at the New York-based brokerage firm ConvergEx Group, who says that since the beginning of 2011, “I want to sell my…”Google search query has been dominated with the autofill results “hair,” “eggs (as in human),” or “kidney.”
Desperation aside, I find the whole idea of online human hair auctions quite intriguing – mainly because I have never heard of such a thing. But a quick Google search revealed that human hair auctions and classifieds are not only quite popular but very lucrative as well. And after visiting a few, I can certainly see why. On website for BuyandSellHair.com, which claims to cater to human hair purveyors from all around the globe, a prospective buyer can now browse through various pictures of locks-for-sale (most of which are still attached to the seller’s head) but they can also get stats about the condition of the hair – from hair thickness, color and length to more intimate details like race and daily upkeep of the hair. In one featured classified ad, the sale items is 13 inches of virgin, thick, curly black hair, authentic Mexican-American hair, retailing for 900 bucks. Her selling point is that the hair has been maintained with only Aussie Moist shampoo and conditioner and has never been dyed, straightened with a flat iron or chemically treated. In another ad, 18 inches of Golden Blonde Virgin Hair is up for sale at a $800 price tag. In the description of the hair, the seller writes:
“My hair is thick golden blonde with a very slight wave. I wash my hair every 2-3 days with Tea Tree Shampoo and I always use conditioner. I never blow-dry, curl, perm, straighten, or color my hair. I eat a healthy diet. There are no smokers in my household. I don’t drink alcohol or take illegal drugs.
I am constantly getting complimented on my hair. People stop me in stores and in restaurants to ask me about my hair.”
You certainly can’t get that type of detail on a pack of Remy.
That familiarity with the source of one’s newly acquired hair is certainly an attractive perk and might be why someone would be compelled to try this option. The human hair e-auctions are also helping more traditional means of weave brokering, particularly in India where hair sacrifices made to the gods, by way of temples, are flipped into bundles of hair to be sold around the world. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh, have seen their revenue from the sale of hair generate 200 million rupees ($3.6 million) last financial year, up from 54 million rupees the previous year thanks to the introduction of e-auctions, which not only expanded the customer base but also helped to make the auction process transparent and fair.
Of course, like most online transactions, there are always a risk of scams and fraud. Some of these hair virtual marketplaces do offer fraud protection plans, which might be worth looking into before making bids or anything. On the surface, it sounds weird to think that this sort of exchange is happening – it kind of reminds me of meeting the cow before it becomes your steak – until I remember that, like the beef industry, hair selling is a legal form of trade. And if you have no interest in donating your hair, or find yourself in a bit of a financial bunch, you can always sell the short and nappy.