Woman who stopped straightening her hair has grown one of the world's largest afros

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Simone Williams, 32, started growing out her natural locks, and now has an incredible length that has a 1.48m circumference.

She says, "Growing up I had natural hair and around the age of 11 I transitioned to straightened hair. It's something I thought was a part of growing up, I wanted to be like my friends and the things that I saw on media or in the TV, and around the age of 23 that's when I decided to transition back to natural hair."

READ MORE | India's 'Rapunzel' remains a cut above the rest as the teen with the world's longest hair 

"As a child, there wasn't pressure per se but I did want to fit in with what I saw around me and the media, and the media definitely straight hair versus natural hair.

"After college I decided to save money for my new apartment and at the salons I would spend anywhere from $50 to $100 a month so I took that money to contribute to my new apartment. And, once I moved into my new apartment, having my natural hair it was something kind of an experiment just for the time being until I reached my savings goal. But once I started to see that new growth I became curious about the new texture of my hair and I just continued to grow my hair out and I've been doing that for about nine years now and here I am."

Simone was recently awarded an honour by Guinness World Record for broking an existing record for the largest afro, which acknowledges her for her afro that is 20.5 cm tall, 22.5 cm wide and 1.48 m in circumference.  

She says, "My wash days, just to wash it and detangle it, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. And to dry depending on the time of year, because I don't apply heat to my hair it could take six hours in the summer or maybe 12 hours in the cooler months." 

READ MORE | Strenuous styling can deplete your hair of protein and moisture, here's what you need to know 

Adding that she often gets compliments when in public. "The reaction I receive varies on the streets, I get things that are subtle like a thumbs up or like a Black Power fist or sometimes, if I'm crossing the street I get horns honking or people just telling me 'I love your hair' ... they love it pretty much." 

Simone broke the record previously held by Aevin Dugas for eight years and recorded a 1.32m circumference.

Simone says, "The goal was never to have the Guinness World Record, I've just been doing what I've been doing since day one so same processes and now that the record has been broken I'm going to continue doing that same thing that I've been doing with my hair all these years.

READ MORE | Meet the hairstylists behind the head-turning looks of Michelle Obama, Rihanna and Zozi Tunzi 

"I would say to anyone looking to embark on the natural hair journey, I would absolutely tell them to have patience. At first it may seem like a daunting process, it was a struggle for me. I didn't go natural and just have big hair one day, it was very hard for me at first but the key thing I always say is to have patience with your hair. It's something that's a part of you and you will learn to embrace it."

Would you grow your afro for a spot the Guinness World Record? Let us know here.

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