Today, the hair business is booming. According to the 2008/2009 Census, The salon and spa industry is a vibrant and growing component of the U.S. economy, with more than 900,000 total establishments and annual sales of nearly $40 billion. Martha Gill at NewStatesman, writes of members of the Hindu religion in India shedding their egos by shaving their heads whilst peddlers gather the remaining hair to auction off to eager Americans. Some auctions earn as much as $27,000,000 a day.
So what is it about hair that will cause us to drain our wallets and to sit for hours in a salon chair? Actor Chris Rock asks these questions in the documentary Good Hair, as he takes a comedic look into the hair industry within the African-American community. Although humorous, this documentary illuminates the extremities women (and a few men) go to in order to alter their natural hair. Interestingly enough, the language of “relaxing” natural hair brings to mind the familiar dance of passing within an American society. If hair is changeable, albeit expensive and abrasive to change but changeable, then it could be employed to pass by minorities within this American Society. Through this lens, we understand the importance and the identity of “good hair” even if we aren’t quite too sure what exactly that is.