Sometimes when my friends and I are on the internet and have reached the level of internet boredom where we seriously contemplate googling “Charlie bit my finger” or taking half an hour to write a satirical Craigslist missed connections ad titled something like, “I swear to god, Carl, if you don’t give back the electric juicer you stole from me I will slash your tires and kidnap your puppy!”, we go on Etsy.com and compete to try to find the most ridiculous “one-of-a-kind” pieces of “conceptual clothing.” I highly recommend doing this. Some of my greatest hits have been items returned when I entered search terms like, “cat pants,” “pizza pants,” and “Italian food mask.” You can literally buy ceramic masks that look like they are made out of Italian food.
About a week ago, I was tired of searching for stuff like “atomic bomb skirt” and “Carl Sagan bedspread” so I started typing, “human” into the search box. The auto-complete function gave me a number of (frighteningly) popular options to choose from that I assumed lead to items made of human body parts. I clicked on the first one that said “human hair.” Most of the items that were returned were “hair extensions” made of human hair.
Until I did this search, I thought that hair extensions were only something that were “weaved” semi-permanently into your hair at salons. Apparently there are little locks of either synthetic or real-deal hair that come in a variety of colors with a clip on one end and are also called “hair extensions.” I’m guessing that the appeal of this is that you can get the look of having unnaturally-colored hair without having to actually commit to having unnaturally-colored hair for a long period of time. I’m willing to bet that teen girls who listen to second wave emo pop bands and want to have neon colored hair (but whose parents won’t let them dye it) make up most of the market for these products.
I get all sorts of weird vibes from the idea that all these clip-on hair extensions are made from actual human hair that was once attached to an actual human’s head. There’s one store that has a virtual monopoly on the Etsy.com market for clip-on hair extensions called, “NeontasticSplash.” From the sheer number of their listings, I can conclude that this isn’t just some broke art major DIY-enthusiast lady from San Francisco who decided one day that she was going to sell her hair clippings on Etsy; this is an actual company that sells hair on Etsy. This means that somewhere out there in the world, hundreds of people are cutting their hair off and willingly supplying it to be sold as hair extensions. I have a hard time trying to empathize with the person who sells their hair to a company to be processed and sold to tweens. I also get all sorts of weird vibes from the idea that somewhere in the world is a guy whose job is to unbox / unbag this human hair and then straighten and dye it to be sold on the internet.
After a lot of pondering the ethics of the industry behind the sale of human hair extensions, I typed, “human” again into the search box, this time clicking the result for “human bone.” There were fewer results for items that involved real human bone than for those that involved real human hair, which is good, I guess. However, items returned on this search registered way higher on the “this is concerning” scale than those on my search for items containing human hair.
The first result that contained actual human bones was a bracelet that had a little pendant of human bone in the middle. The bracelet actually looked pretty cool and well-made. If the maker hadn’t said it was human bone, it would have just looked like a translucent off-white rock. The seller is from The Netherlands. Maybe grave-digging / killing people for jewelry isn’t frowned-upon there.
The second thing I found made out of human bone was a bracelet that was mostly a human finger bone. The crafter was from Portland (go figure) and gave this as a part of the description, “This was part of a medical skeleton that had seen much better days and was not treated well in its medical facility.”—which I guess makes it a little bit more acceptable. However, if you bought it, you would still be wearing a piece of a dead human on your wrist.
The third item I found was a necklace with a piece of bone on the end. It looked pretty entry-level. The crafter failed to describe where they got the bone from, which is a little concerning, seeing how they’re from Texas. Isn’t it like completely legal 92% of the time to kill people in Texas?
Most of the results that contained real bones were artificial replicas, except for the last three I described (and also a crapload of listings for “tooth rings”). There was, however, one outlier: a piece called, “her roses: human arm articulation with real human bones and dried roses”—which is basically a big piece of wood mounted with human bones clutching a bouquet of dried roses, “stingray stingers” and “birch twigs with fairy’s-cup fungus,” all of this held together with black cloth and what looks a lot like a plastic grocery bag.
The blog “craftastrophe” plugged the “bones and roses” thing in a post about a week ago, and the crafter seems pretty flattered by it, considering that she linked to it in the item’s description. If you’re reading this, it’s probably still for sale, seeing as it’s priced at $1,700. I can kind of understand the high price, even though it doesn’t look that well-constructed, nobody can really know how much effort this lady from Portland (of course) had to put into actually obtaining the bones to make it.
Note to future disposer(s) of my body:
Please do not turn me into jewelry. I also don’t care how close it is or even if I live there, please do not bury me anywhere near Portland, Oregon.