Brooklyn resident Simone Williams is the first woman to break the record in eight long years, something she is incredibly proud of.
A woman from the United States has just broken the world record for the biggest afro in the women's category of the Guinness Book of World Records. Simone Williams, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, has an afro that is 20.5 cm (about 8.07 inches) tall, 22.5 cm (8.85 inches) wide, and 1.48 meters (4 feet and 10 inches) in circumference. She attempted the record after she kept receiving compliments about how large her afro was. Williams was also inspired by the previous world record holder, Aevin Dugas, also from the United States. Dugas held the record for eight straight years.
"She inspired me to make the attempt," Williams stated in a press release from the Guinness Book of World Records. "I googled 'world's largest afro' and when she came up I was in awe. 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." Though she could not believe it at first, breaking the world record was really meaningful to her. She affirmed, "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 [it]."
The New Yorker started her natural hair journey nine years ago. Ever since she was a young girl, she had been getting her hair straightened or permed. "I started getting perms or straightening my hair in middle school and wore my hair straight until college," Williams shared. "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." As anyone with naturally textured hair will know, it is not the easiest transition to make. She continued, "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." However, after lots of practice and even more patience, Williams finally learned how to take care of her natural hair. She made a visit to the hair salon for the first time in a while to get her hair officially measured for the world record. "I normally [just] wash my hair weekly using very little sulfate-free shampoo," she explained. "I use a lot of conditioner because it helps detangle my hair. I section my hair into four twists while in the shower."
Over time, Williams has grown (pun intended!) to love her natural hair, something that Black women are conditioned not to. She does garner a lot of attention from passers-by when she walks down the street, for example, and not all of it is necessarily good attention. She said, "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." Nonetheless, this will not stop her from wearing her afro big and proud, she affirmed.
"Rocking a natural ‘fro is something that really symbolizes 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," she stated. "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. From the beginning, my natural hair has been a journey. I most definitely see it as my statement piece."