In a story by O’Henry a penniless young woman is desperate to buy her lover a Christmas present. So she sells her beautiful hair to obtain the money. If you think the writer was fibbing, think again. Hair WAS a commodity – so much so that 200 years ago it was worth twice its weight in silver!
It all started even earlier, in the Middle Ages. Back then hair was seen as a symbol of one’s status, and many wealthy people would buy wigs if their natural hair was not good enough for their ambitions. Kings and queens would lead the trend.
When stakes are that high, crime thrives. Many women – and even some men and children – were laywaid and mugged, their hair shorn off. In many cases, the police were helpless to stop the crime or to punish the criminal. In England the problem became so serious that women would rather stay home than expose themselves to the risks. Poor Jack the Ripper never realized that he was cutting into the wrong parts!
Recently the hair crime found its way into Asia and South America. In Venezuela a gang known as “the Piranhas” would attack its victims in shopping malls in broad daylight. Hair is a hot commodity worth stealing and the crime lives on. Read more: htttp://www.theguardian.com/