Record-breaking hair! Meet the woman with the largest afro in the world
Simone Williams from Brooklyn, New York, has set the record for the largest female afro.
Her phenomenal afro is 20.5 cm (8.07 in) tall, 22.5 cm (8.85 in) wide, and 1.48 m (4 ft 10 in) in circumference.
Simone attempted this record because she always gets comments about her the size of her "voluminous natural afro."
She was also inspired by the previous record holder, Aevin Dugas, who held the record for eight years.
"She inspired me to make the attempt. I googled 'world's largest afro' and when she came up I was in awe," Simone said of Aevin.
"At the time, I didn’t think my hair was anywhere close to hers, she was goals! But I was so happy to see that she was recognized and there was a chance for others to be recognized too."
Finally securing the coveted record title meant a lot to Simone - although she didn’t quite believe it at first!
"My mouth dropped, then my knees! I could not believe it! I opened the email to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. I took about 10 minutes to process.
"Being a Guinness World Records title holder now feels so exciting and it’s such an incredible accomplishment for me… it’s something I can share with my family and generations years from now.
Simone started her natural hair journey nine years ago.
"I started getting perms or straightening my hair in middle school and wore my hair straight until college."
"I chose to transition [to natural hair] around the age of 23. It began because I wanted to save the money spent at the hair salon to help with the costs of moving into my first apartment.
"The process was very difficult at first since I was accustomed to wearing my hair straight and I didn’t know how to manage my natural hair texture."
But after lots of practice and patience, Simone learnt how to care for her hair.
Normally, Simone doesn't go to salons at all, but had to visit one to get her hair measured for the official record verification.
"I normally wash my hair weekly using very little sulfate-free shampoo. I use a lot of conditioner because it helps detangle my hair. I section my hair into 4 twists while in shower."
After washing, Simone uses a hair moisturiser and olive oil gel before retwisting her hair into about 8 smaller twists and then lets it air dry.
Over time Simone became accustomed to the differences and grew to love her natural hair – although she did have to say goodbye to hats and start looking out for low hanging tree branches!
"I love that my hair has a mind of its own. It’s versatile and it’s my favourite accessory."
Wearing her hair in its natural form does garner lots of attention from passers-by when Simone goes out.
"When my hair is fully styled and big and voluminous I get a lot of stares, a lot of comments, lots of compliments – I want to think that everything is positive, but there are some people who stare like they have no idea what’s going on or what they’re looking at."
However, this would never stop Simone from keeping her hair in its natural style.
"Rocking a natural ‘fro is something that really symbolises your pride in being Black. And I feel like whenever I wear my hair very big and beautiful, I just feel that pride within me."
"Styling my hair like this is a silent reflection of who I am as a Black woman, it’s dynamic, it’s larger than life, and it’s fun! Sometimes I leave the house and if I have on a plain outfit, my hair will be my biggest accessory.
"For many years, Black women have been wearing their hair as it grows from their scalp as a symbol of freedom and liberation, and I too feel that freedom, liberation and confidence when I walk out of the house with my natural ‘fro.
"From the beginning my natural hair has been a journey. I most definitely see it as my statement piece."
And her advice to those who want to go natural?
"Always be patient with your hair. It’s a process and every day is not going to be a perfect hair day. Research and learn what works best for your hair type."
"I only use 3 products religiously and sometimes try a new product once in a while. Don’t think what works for someone else, is going to work for you!"
When asked if Simone would consider any other records, she said "Maybe [a Guinness World Records title for] 2 afro puffs, like pigtails - I love that style too."