[dropcap]A[/dropcap]sha Mandela, the 50-year-old Atlanta resident has earned the name “the Black Rapunzel” because she holds the Guinness World Record for “World’s Longest Dreadlocks,” which she has owned since 2008.
Her dreads were officially measured to be 19 feet, 6 inches long, but an unofficial measurement found one of the strands measured a whopping 55 feet, 7 inches.
Mandela first started growing her lovely locks 25 years ago, after she moved from Trinidad-Tobago to New York and decided to have a more “natural” hairstyle.
“When I first started, it was more of a spiritual journey It wasn’t anything to do with a fad or style in fashion,” Mandela said according to the International Business Times. “After 25 years of growth, my hair has really become part of me and I feel that if I ever cut my hair I’d really be taking away my life.”
But greatness like this isn’t easy: She washes the dreads once a week, using up to six bottles of shampoo at a time. Then it takes two days for the locks to dry and they weigh 25 pounds when wet.
She says the extra weight of her hair makes her doctors very concerned.
“The doctors seem to think I have a curvature of my spine and that it’s the length and the weight of my hair that’s making me curve,” she said, “Some have said my neck has collapsed at the back and that I need to be careful because I could start having spasms in my spine and probably be paralyzed.”
That problem is mitigated, she says, by the effect her locks have on the men in her life.
“My hair has never caused a problem with intimacy. I think it adds a little spice on top,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Guinness World Records says the company retired the “World’s Longest Dreadlocks” record in 2009, and will no longer be monitoring attempts at the feat.
“The reason for this is that it’s impossible to measure the authenticity of the locks due to expert methods employed in the attachment of hair extensions or re-attachment of broken off dreadlocks,” the spokeswoman told, “Effectively, the dreadlock can become an extension and therefore impossible to adjudicate accurately.”