What does your hair mean to you? For some of us it’s important enough; but for Asha Mandela the woman with the world’s longest dredlocks, her hair is life itself.
Mandela, 50, began growing her locks out 25 years ago in spiritual quest to change her life. Initially, her family didn’t support her decision but in 2009 when she earned the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest dredlocks and started gaining notoriety, they warmed up to the idea. (Ain’t that the way it goes.)
Since 2009, her hair has gotten even more impressive. Today it’s 55 feet long and weighs 42 pounds. When she goes out in the street Asha has to wear a baby sling on her back just to carry it all.
Being the black Rapunzel might sound like a cool title, but having this much hair comes with its drawbacks. Health side effects actually. Doctors have advised Mandela to cut her hair because it has already lead to a curvature in her spine and could lead to neck spasms in the future.
But cutting it is not an option. Mandela says she and her hair are connected now– not just by the root, but spiritually. She credits the growth of her locks for helping her to overcome cancer, two strokes and two heart attacks. In fact she says, “If I ever gut my hair, I’d really be taking away my life.” So instead, of taking a pair of scissors to her hair, Mandela is going to keep living the life she’s adapted and grown accustomed to, which includes washes once a week, (which can take up to two days to dry), and that baby sling.
Check out Asha and her hair in the video below.