Asha Zulu Mandela known as the” Black Rapunzel” started growing her lovely dreadlocks 25 years ago, after moving from Trinidad Tobago to New York. Today she holds the record for the world’s longest locks, which measure 19 feet, 6 inches long.
Soon after she settled in Brooklyn, New York, Asha started working as nanny spending most of her time in parks and playgrounds. Perming and styling her hair just wasn’t working very well with her hectic schedule, so she decided to go for an easier, more natural alternative.
After careful consideration she started growing “locks”, which didn’t sit too well with her family, especially her mother, who though it made her head look like “a riff-raff mop.” Not even Asha herself was sure she had made the right decision because her short hair made them look spiky.
But as they grew, she fell in love with her new hairdo and even started referring to her hair as “my baby.” The years passed and her dreadlocks grew fast floor length, but she didn’t realized how unique her natural hairstyle had become until about 5 years ago when people started complimenting her and asking all kinds of questions, like how long she had been growing the locks for.
She was also asked, how long it took to wash and if she was featured in the Guinness Book of Records. That last question sparked her interest, so she reached out to Guinness and Ripley’s to make her record official.
Asha says that after 25 years of growing her hair naturally, cutting it would be like taking away her life. Still, her pride and joy can be a little problematic at times. She uses six bottles of shampoo at a time, and the hair needs to days to dry.
When wet, the locks weigh 25 pounds, which puts an extra strain on her neck. Doctors have told her she has a curvature of the spine, most likely caused by the extra weight of her incredibly-long hair. Some have said her neck has collapsed at the back, and that if she’s not careful, she could start having spasms in the spines and end up paralyzed.
These warnings are apparently not enough to convince Asha Mandela to cut her dreadlocks, as she says the hair has become part of her life, and getting rid of it would make her feel like a zombie.
Watch the video of Asha Mandela featured in Guinness World Record: