For Brooklyn native Simone Williams, rocking her natural hair symbolizes her pride as a black woman.
Measuring at 20.5 cm (8.07 in) in length, 22.5 cm (8.85 in) in width and 1.48 m (4 ft 10 in) Williams officially cliches the title for world’s largest female afro.
Williams takes over from Aevin Dugas who held the record for eight years. Speaking with Guinness World Records, Williams, revealing it took nine years to grow her conspicuous and “voluminous natural afro”, also stated she was inspired by Dugas to take a shot at breaking the record.
“She [Dugas] inspired me to make the attempt. I googled ‘world’s largest afro’ and when she came up I was in awe,” Williams said. “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.”
Sharing her excitement about being able to break the record, Williams added she could not believe it. “My mouth dropped, then my knees!,” she said. “I could not believe it! I opened the email to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. I took about 10 minutes to process [it].”
Speaking to the New York Post Williams dished on her hair routine, saying she seldom visits the salon, though “maintaining my afro can be a task, especially when it comes to detangling.” She also said she normally uses just three products: Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist, Shea Moisture Coconut + Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Eco Style Olive Oil Gel.
“I wash it once a week or every two weeks,” she added. “It takes about six hours to dry since I normally do not use a blowdryer, to avoid heat damage.”
Williams told Guinness World Records she actually decided to transition to natural hair to save some money, and she hasn’t turned back since then.
“I started getting perms or straightening my hair in middle school and wore my hair straight until college,” she said.
“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.”
Admitting that although it wasn’t a smooth transition she got better at caring for her natural hair through patience and practice. “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,” she said, adding that she generally receives positive compliments about her hair.
“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,” Williams said.
A proud Williams said rocking her natural hair symbolizes her pride as a Black woman:
“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.
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 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.” She says.