The Temple of Do

From Mother Jones, an interesting piece on the origins of Remy hair, the super-expensive hair prized for extensions by celebrities and millionaires. It has its unlikely origins at a temple in India.

In any case, those seeking a high-end look know what to ask for. It’s called “remy” hair, which is more or less synonymous with hair from India. Top salons prize it for the way it’s collected, in a single cut, which preserves the orientation of the hair’s shingle-like outer layer, and thus its strength, luster, and feel. That’s what defines remy, and that’s the reason it commands a premium price. “If you want cheap hair,” sniffs one supplier’s blog, “you’re going to get a cheap looking hairstyle.” Beyoncé wears remy hair, as do Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, and any Hollywood starlet who’s been within a mile of a first-class weave. “The only hair worth buying is remy,” says one of Brown’s clients, her hair wrapped around enormous curlers. “They say that it’s cut from the heads of virgins.”

VIRGINS, CHECK. But also mothers, fathers, little kids, and not-so-pure American reporters. To see the whole process up close and personal, I have traveled to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, a sprawling Hindu temple in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Tirumala is the planet’s top supplier of remy hair and point of origin for at least 30 percent of the Indian trade, a fact that doesn’t seem to bother devotees of the resident god Venkateswara—an incarnation of Vishnu.

The Temple of Do [Mother Jones]

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