Here’s some inspiration for any of my rastabellas who are growing longer locks — Trinidad-born Asha Mandela is vying for a spot in the Guinness World Book of Records as the proud owner of the world’s longest dreadlocks. Her longest lock measures eight feet 9 inches long!

Now THAT is commitment.

I immediately identified with Asha’s hair journey, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel :

Originally from Trinidad, Mandela started growing her dreads when she decided to stop using chemicals on her hair while she was living in Brooklyn, N.Y. She cut it all off and, as it grew back, began corkscrewing it into curls that in turn were twisted together into dreadlocks. Before her dreads were long enough to hang down, they stuck out from her head like long black fingers.

She sent her mother a picture. Her mother said not to send any more.

“She said, ‘I took such good care of your nice curly hair, and this is what you are doing with it?’ ” Mandela recalled. “She called it a mop for five years.”

I wonder if Asha’s mom has come to terms with her daughter’s hair, now that she’s grown her locs to such an impressive length?

Reportedly Asha washes her hair once a week at the most :

Mandela said says she “used to wash it three times a week. Now I do it once a week. It’s very tiring. Sometimes I don’t have the energy.”

It takes one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of conditioner every time she washes her hair and can sometimes take days to fully dry after she washes it.”

And being the product junkie that I am, I’m wondering — what kind of shampoo and conditioner does Asha use?

I thought it was really interesting that her hair growth wasn’t motivated by religious reasons. It was a desire to celebrate her natural beauty.

Asha broke away from the hairstyling methods she was taught to find her own expression of beauty. I applaud that and wish her all the best!

Your hair’s taken you far, Asha – here’s hoping you get the world record you’re looking for!

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Gisele says:
October 27, 2008, 2:58 pm
I am sorry, but hair that length of any texture looks so nasty to me. And she washes it once a week at the most? Must be lovely in the summer-ugh
SoFrolushes says:
October 27, 2008, 3:05 pm
wow those locs are long. I thought my uncles locs that swing past his bum were long.
brightstarr says:
October 27, 2008, 3:21 pm
Kudos to anyone who is absolutely in love with their hair in it's natural state. It's been about a year for me since going natural and I'm embracing it 100%. Just did a post today on some of my favorite products...what are yours?
b. says:
October 27, 2008, 3:25 pm
Um, yeah, once a week isn't extreme and actually I'm glad to hear she does it as often as she does. Some people with locks don't wash as often. My natural hair is loose and I only wash it with a bar soap 1 or 2 times a week (with maybe one conditioning in between). Anything more and my hair would feel like straw. I kinda understand the aversion to uber-long hair, just because all sorts of things can get trapped in it if it's not well maintained. But it sounds like Asha's hair IS well maintained. I do wonder what kind of measures she takes to guard against any type of mold build-up, given the length of time it takes for her hair to dry. Please post if you find out what kind of shampoo she uses! Fascinating!
b. says:
October 27, 2008, 3:43 pm
And word to the wise: if you click on the Orlando Sentinel link don't read the comments if you're having a good day. But then again, I think that's true of every news story nowadays...
Sophia, Naturally says:
October 27, 2008, 4:32 pm
Thanks for sharing that. I have to agree that it is refreshing to see people in love with their natural beauty even in excess.
Crys, Loc'd says:
October 27, 2008, 4:52 pm
This article is extremely timely because I just cut my locks short on Saturday. I've been growing my locs for nine years and they were nearly waist length. The weight was getting irritating and the length meant that I was always leaning on them, tangling with them, or my partner was laying on them, or my kids. It was completely irritating. My commitment to my locs remains. However, extreme length is burdensome. Also, I'd like to argue that locs aren't really "natural" hair. I have transformed my hair from it's natural state.
bella says:
October 27, 2008, 5:40 pm
Yikes, B - just read those comments. Racism is everywhere. So depressing, and the story is generally positive =(
Yan says:
October 27, 2008, 5:42 pm
I love locs and have been flirting with the temptation to set my hair to locing so I wish Asha all the best with her quest. I was right up there with her in the video, till she spoke about her ethnic diversity playing a role in her having "good textured" hair. ALL hair texture is good!!!
Zenzele says:
October 27, 2008, 5:47 pm
Though I'm very happy to hear about someone celebrating their natural beauty, that "good hair" comment that she made could have been left out - she still has a long way to go.
Suguhcane says:
October 27, 2008, 5:54 pm
Zenzele, thanks for pointing that out...I agree that that comment about "good hair" could have been left out... Good hair can come in any do not have to be mixed to have good hair or have Indian or white or whatever other ethic group some people like to tag on before they say they are black....I am crazy about natural hair(combed, moisturized, etc) but I think this is excessive...Just my humble opinion, nothing more...
tanya says:
October 27, 2008, 6:26 pm
Good for Asha for being committed to her hair. I've been growing my locs for 10 years and it hasn't been easy. I can't imagine washing that hair. It's a chore for me to wash mine! I won't grow mine that long though, that's just a personal choice.
UnalteredBeauty says:
October 27, 2008, 7:06 pm
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your beautiful hair" ^^^ I just couldn't resist. Kudos to her but I feel sorry for her neck. Ouch.
ayomidejpw says:
October 27, 2008, 7:15 pm
wow, her hair is very long. I applaud her decision to keep them, but don't they pull at her scalp? Isn't that bad for her scalp? Anyway, great story!
Anya says:
October 27, 2008, 7:16 pm creepy.
Christine says:
October 27, 2008, 8:39 pm
I say good for her for wanting to wear her hair naturally. And I have to say, I'm glad I watched the video where she mentioned getting headaches. I know if I wear a pony tail for any extended period of time I'm suffering. That's some dedication.
Cherry says:
October 27, 2008, 9:58 pm
Good for her!! It's been 5 1/2 years for me with locs because I grew tired of perms burning my scalp. Side Bar: Crys Loc'd? Would you please explain your statement (locs aren't really "natural" hair) to me? I ask this question because I've stated to many people that my hair is at it's natural form (ie. not combed, relaxed/chemically treated). Thank you.
Dee says:
October 28, 2008, 12:01 am
That chick said that she comes from a mixed family that's why her hair has been able to grow really long....smh. Black people let's END that mentality....PLEASE.
bella says:
October 28, 2008, 12:50 am
Zenzele you are so right -- how did I miss that quote when I watched this video? I hate that line of thinking. The concept of "good" and "bad" hair is so destructive and meaningless and backward. I applaud her for following her natural hair instincts, and I hope her point of view on those outdated and close minded Eurocentric beauty ideals evolves.
lala...ladene says:
October 28, 2008, 12:53 am
i couldn't do it. but i love the real life Rapunzel! loves it.
Bsquared86 says:
October 28, 2008, 2:36 am
Such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this with us! I can't wait to see what my locs will become!
tolagyal says:
October 28, 2008, 7:13 am
This is something i see often alot of the rastas here in the islands hair tend to be that length or longer but you will only know if they let it down which they often dont since it will be tragging on the ground.
aquababie says:
October 28, 2008, 9:38 am
i compliment the sister on her commitment. i know that's a bunch of weight though.
DblDee says:
October 28, 2008, 1:04 pm
Wow! Now that's dedication and then some. Rapunzel was the first thing that pop into my mind.:) I am SO tired of the "good/bad hair" talk. This is just another thing that separates us as people of African descent. And you DO NOT have to be of mixed race to have long hair. I have had long hair all my life and know many other non-mixed women of African descent that have long hair as well. Good hair comes from using good products on hair, maintaining proper care which including trims, conditioning, etc. Now that I'm natural my grows even faster and is way more healthy. Please people stop allowing the "good/bad hair" to create the underline separtion between us. Step outside of the box and love your hair :)
hey y'all says:
October 28, 2008, 5:17 pm
WTH is she mixed with black and blacker?
Meredith says:
October 29, 2008, 2:13 pm
Im posting my comment again cause..... Well I want an answer so I'll post it twice in two different places. Being annoying has gotten me very far in life so far. Hello bella Meredith J here. I have a lot to say so you might want to have a seat. I have been natural for three years now and I have yet to find that “perfect product” for my hair, if such a thing even exits. I am in college and I dont have a lot of time or money to spend on my hair. I have been using something called Hawaiian Silky on my hair and, to quote Mick Jagger, I cant get no satisfaction from it. It leaves my hair feeling heavy, greasy, and filmy for days. I have very dry kinky hair and my curls are very tight small spiral curls and I need them to be elongated and bouncy. I have been surfing the net for the past few days looking for products I could possibly use in my hair. Ive been on the websites for Blended Beauty, Mixed Chicks(even though I happen to be a peanut butter colored nubian chick), Miss Jessies, Hair Rules by Dickey, Kinky-Curly, and Carols Daughter and let me tell you my head is spinning!! I need your expert opinion what should I use in my hair? What works? I dont have money to shell out for something that wont work, I have books to buy! Please respond hastely if at all possible. Sincerely Frazzled, Meredith
KemetianQueen says:
October 30, 2008, 6:40 pm
im sorry but she is so corny talking about she from a mixed background. how many black people aren't? that does not make your locs grow longer idiot. just go in the damn book and be recognized for your length of hair, who gives a damn about your background, thats the first words that came spilling out of your your mouth. your still a negro with negro hair. besides your alittle too old for that kindergarten mess, im black mixed with????? Your Black.
KemetianQueen says:
October 30, 2008, 6:44 pm
besides sistahs and brothers have the best hair. wooly hair. its in your bible. remember. it doesnt say indian, european, or arabian hair. it says hair of wool. thats the best damn texture sistah girl. no matter where you born, as you would say.
KemetianQueen says:
October 30, 2008, 6:54 pm
if i were you i would start over your hair is falling out. or keep it pinned up because with that weight it looks as if its going to drop off.
KemetianQueen says:
October 30, 2008, 7:01 pm
real sistahs show yourselves and your african grandmothers and fathers that took those long harsh winter/summer rides throughout the atlantic slave trade some damn respect. that took the lashes for you to be here today and your generations continuity. show her some respect because 9 out 10 she most definately was black with natural wooly hair. may the most high bless our ancestors.
brunsli says:
October 31, 2008, 2:49 am
How long is too long, I wonder. I do applaud her for having years of natural hair, but super long length and pointing out that she's mixed and therefore has "good hair" suggest she may not be as comfortable as she purports to be. Also, I don't think she has the longest locks. See: and maybe even
Spinster says:
October 31, 2008, 11:55 pm
Wow. How long. I'm almost 3 and a 1/2 years in, and I'm not sure if I could let mine grow that long. They seem like they'd be so heavy. Kudos to her though, for bucking society's beauty ideals.
The Connoisseur says:
November 1, 2008, 4:32 pm
I am a proud locer for 10 years now and I am not a Rastafarian. My locs were to my waist, but I cut them short many times over already in the past 4 years. Beautiful they were, but not easy to wash & dry at all. I would never think of going bald again (I was once for 4 years), because I love being loced. But I do raise an eyebrow regarding a couple of Asha's statements. - Her mention of "good hair": Hell no, not having that. Like many of you above, I believe that she is obviously stuck in that negative mentality. - The headaches: Beauty is beauty. However when do we have to take heed and realize that sometimes beauty is not worth it, if your health is at jeopardy? I know it's not life threatening but headaches are headaches. And we do like to be comfortable don't we? They are beautiful, but just too long for me.
Crys, Loc'd says:
November 3, 2008, 7:04 pm
Cherry, my "natural hair" comment just means that if I didn't do anything to my hair but keep it clean and groomed, it would not be locked. Locked hair gets that way by doing something... palm rolls, sister locks, twists, sewing, etc. Locs are traditional, they are cultural, and they can be symbolic and beautiful. That doesn't mean they're what our hair would be if we left our hair alone and unfettered. I'm not saying/meaning anything negative against locs OR against natural hair. However, my partner wakes up in the morning, rinses or washes her hair, and goes on about her business. She has beautiful ringlet curls. THAT is natural hair.
Asha Mandela says:
November 14, 2008, 10:19 am
Greetings my sisters and brothers. I stand humbled at all replies and comments both positive and negative towards my locks from the "Guinness World Record Attempt" story.. I am pleased that so many people like my locks and the story....however i do want to apologise for the comment that was made about (mixed culture) helping me grow good curly hair. I meant no harm or disrespect to anyone's hair texture and the comment/reference was taken out of context. All hair types will lock up...some takes longer than some and others grow to a certain length and stops. Based on my own hair experience and observation on hair in general i realised that there is a bit of a difference with extra kinky hair as to softer curly hair within the afrikan/afrikan american culture and so the comment was made to explain what i felt contributed to my own personal hair growth. It was never meant to disrespect or upset anyone. I have won the record and i am very grateful to have made it this far. I pray that my apology is accepted as i continiously stand in support to all my brothers and sisters...all afrobellas.. Be Blessed Ashazulu
Tajullah says:
February 6, 2009, 10:17 pm
Sorru but Asha does not have the longest locks. Very few people can compete with the Sadhu with locks as over 25 feet long. Mine are only 5 + feet. They have been longer, but eventually break off. Asha sounds confused attributing her hair to being "mixed"...whatever that means...she looks quite Afican/African American to me. Having only one lock longer than all the others qualifying you as having the longest locks is a bit much. Again, I have seen longer locks at a Reggae Fest.
Beth says:
June 16, 2009, 2:10 pm
Wow, she is so committed. i am only 15 years old. and my hair has never been cut, and my hair is only seven (and three quarters) feet long. i wonder how long it will take my hair to get that long. it is so pretty. i cant believe people actually think dreads are nasty. they are gorgeous. she is doing an absolute great job.
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Kareal says:
March 19, 2014, 7:33 am
I am very late to this post, however, I have seen that some say this is not natural wearing locks or that the hair is transformed.... HMMMMMMM...... If we were to leave our hair alone it would naturally lock on its own hence the word free form! So because they are neatly acquired does not mean that they aren't natural. I have very curly coily hair and for my hair not to lock on its own, I have to go through detangling before and after washing and or air drying. So for those who do not have to worry about that ok maybe it isn't natural for you. For my hair texture it is! so the next time you see someone with locks know that they chose to either have the neatly done or done on their own. So yes! Dreads are natural. (period!)
Jason says:
May 8, 2014, 1:40 pm
I Mean Thats Still Pretty Sanitary In The Standards Of Dreads.....And You Arent Exactly Supposed To Wash It Every Day,Thats How You Strip Your Follicles Of Hair Of Its Natural Oils That Help It Grow,Thats Why Her Dreads Are Sooo Long. :) says:
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