There are some pretty strange Guinness World Records out there. Longest underwater kiss, largest gathering of people dressed like Gandhi, most spoons on a human body– and longest dreadlocks. Asha Zulu Mandela holds the last with 19’6″ dreads (55′ individual strands) that seem to be a little bit messing up her life.
The 39 pounds of hair have, among other things, seriously messed up her spine. Mandela reports that doctors think her spine has become curved and the back of her neck collapsed– because of her hair. Just let that sink in. She has enough hair to mess up her bones.
If she lets her dreads keep getting longer, she might start having spinal spasms and ultimately become paralyzed. Yet rather than cut her locks, she began knotting it, making it shorter but no less heavy– though when she realized this and wanted an accurate measurement for the Guinness folks, she had to go to a specialist to help her unknot it, because I guess that’s a job someone has?
Mandela has been growing her hair for 25 years, which is longer than I have been alive, so that’s a bit shocking. She has to use six bottles of shampoo just to wash it. But Mandela insists that her hair is part of who she is, going so far as to say:
Cutting it would be equivalent to suicide. It would be like being a zombie.
…Unique as she may be, Mandela has been through serious (non-hair-related) health issues, and if this is something that keeps her going, I say more power to her, provided she doesn’t paralyze herself. Two strokes, two heart attacks, and chemo treatment– and she kept that hair, which, considering the hassle I already find my hair most mornings, is not what I would have done in her place.
So more power to you, Mandela, and maybe consider a little 12′ trim.
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