Charlotte Hannah
August 21, 2013

Asha Mandela Has the World’s Longest Dreadlocks (VIDEO)

Asha Mandela is 47 years old and has had dreadlocks for nearly half her life. In that time, she’s become very attached to them – so naturally, she has never cut them.

“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 told the International Business Times.

In 2009, she set a Guinness World Record for world’s longest dreadlocks with an official measurement of 19 feet, 6 inches. (Guinness has since retired this record due to the difficulty of verifying that a person’s dreadlocks haven’t been extended.)

An unofficial measurement showed that at least one of her dreadlocks was 55 feet, 7 inches long. That’s longer than a city bus!

Unfortunately, carrying approximately 40 pounds of hair around everywhere you go has its consequences. The most obvious is the fact that so much hair is difficult to maintain. When she washes her dreadlocks once a week, Mandela has to use six bottles of shampoo, and the hair takes up to two days to fully dry.

But there are also health implications to having 25 years’ worth of hair.

“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 told the Mirror. “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’s not stopping her, though. After having her dreadlocks for so long and through a number of traumatic health crises – including cancer, two strokes and two heart attacks – Mandela considers them her baby.

“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,” she said.