- Asha Mandela said she would be a ‘zombie’ if she cut her hair
- Has grown dreadlocks for 25 years and they now weigh three stone
- Doctors said her hair has given her a curvature of the spine
She is the real life Rapunzel with 55ft long dreadlocks that are longer than a bus. Despite being warned by doctors that her hair that weighs three stone could paralyse her, Asha Mandela said she will never cut them. The mother-of-one from Atlanta, Georgia, said: ‘My hair has become part of me. It is my life. I will never cut it.
‘Cutting it would be equivalent to suicide. It would be like being a zombie.’ Mrs Mandela, 47, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest dreadlocks. She calls her hair ‘her baby’ and credits them with helping her overcome cancer, two strokes and two heart-attacks.
Her incredible hair has also brought her fans across the world and she has launched her own secret hair formula on the back of her success. It takes two days to wash and dry her hair, which weighs the same as a reception-age child, and is even heavier when wet. It can also get easily trapped in doors or snag on bushes.
She has to wind it up into a baby sling when she leaves the house which gives her a greater degree of freedom. But Mrs Mandela worries that ‘someone with a hair fetish’ will cut off a lock of her hair when she is not looking.
Doctors have also asked her to consider cutting her hair for health reasons, including the risk of bacterial infection. But their main concern is the weight. She said: ‘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. ‘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 paralysed.’
Mrs Mandela, who has a 11-year-old son, Zion, with her second husband, said her hair has helped her love life. She said: ‘My hair has never caused a problem with intimacy. I think it adds a little spice on top.’ Mrs Mandela, who is happily married to her third husband, was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She began growing her hair 25 years ago following a ‘spiritual calling’.
Her mother did not want her to because she thought it would make her daughter more likely to start smoking cannabis. She even carried on growing her hair while undergoing chemotherapy. Eventually a friend suggested she speak to Guinness and in 2009 they crowned her with the title of world’s longest dreadlocks. They officially measured 19ft 6in but an unofficial measurement this week put one strand of her hair at an incredible 55ft 7in long – almost three times the official length.
Hairdresser Angela Davis of Natural Hair and Holistics who helps style Asha’s hair on special occasions. She said: ‘I was amazed when she first walked through the door. My first thought was – “God, how much am I gonna have to charge her”. ‘Now I see it as an honour to work with someone with so much hair and to be able to do something good with it.’