Asha Mandela's Hair: 55-Foot Dreadlocks Could Paralyze Atlanta Woman, Say Doctors [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on August 19, 2013 5:36 PM EDT

asha mandela
Asha Mandela has 55-foot dreadlocks which weigh 39 pounds, which doctors say may paralyze her. (Photo: Facebook)

Asha Mandela of Atlanta, Ga., calls her incredibly long dreadlocks "her baby," but Mandela's doctors are calling it something else: a condition that can paralyze her.

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Mandela, 47, began growing her hair out 25 years ago as a "spiritual calling," and since then she has amassed 39 pounds of dreadlocks which stretch an astonishing 55 feet, 7 inches -- longer than a bus. Unsurprisingly, Mandela holds the Guinness World Record for longest dreadlocks, a record she set in 2009, though her dreadlocks are even longer now.

Mandela's hair is so massive that it takes two days to wash, and when she goes out she often carries her hair in a baby sling, lest it get caught on a shrub or car door. Mandela also worries that "someone with a hair fetish" will try to snip off her hair.

But all of these inconveniences and annoyances pale in comparison to the real trouble with her hair: its weight could damage her spine.

"The doctors seem to think I have a curvature of my spine and that it's the length and the weight of my hair that's making me curve," Mandela said. "Some have said my neck has collapsed at the back and that I need to be careful because I could start having spasms in my spine and probably be paralyzed."

Doctors have also warned Mandela that she could contract a bacterial infection.

But infections or even spine damage are no deterrent for Mandela, who says she will never cut her hair.

"Cutting it would be equivalent to suicide," said Mandela. "It would be like being a zombie."

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