Guinness World Record natural hair influencer speaks to local students

Published 12:05 pm Saturday, April 29, 2023

RESERVE — Aevin Dugas went from getting a perm every four weeks to becoming the Guinness World Record holder for largest afro on a living person (female). With a circumference of 5.41 feet, Dugas’ hair is more than a fashion statement; it’s an expression of self-love.

Dugas grew up in Napoleonville but was drawn to St. John the Baptist Parish to help operate her family’s group home. Recently, she returned to Reserve to share her story with the Literary and Film Club at East St. John High School.

During her visit, Dugas asked a group of young ladies how many of them had gotten a perm. Only two girls raised their hands, much to her surprise, and one had since gone back to natural.

“If we had gone back to when I was younger, maybe one person would have been natural. That makes me feel like my part and everyone else’s part in this natural hair movement is working,” Dugas said. “When I was younger, because there was less representation of African American hair on television and on billboards and magazines, afros had a negative connotation. In actuality, it’s about loving your hair how it grows. Why should that be a problem? Now there is way more positivity, but it took a lot to get here, and there are some people still struggling with it. Having a larger platform to be able to talk about that is probably the best thing that has happened for me with the Guinness World Record title.”
Dugas, 47, said her afro was the lagniappe that came from her decision to stop using chemicals in her hair more than 20 years ago. The transition took about five years, and since she had no idea what her natural hair texture even looked like, there was a learning curve to figuring out how to style it without the modern-day amenity of YouTube tutorials.

One day, she looked at herself in the mirror and cut her hair off, simultaneously cutting ties with the societal pressure of having straight hair. The hair fell into the trash, and Dugas never looked back.

Dugas first claimed the Guinness World Record title in 2011. She set the record again 10 months after losing the title during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she recently set the world record for the third time. Guinness has taken Dugas to events overseas, and she’s spent the past decade traveling around the country to share her hair journey with others.

While Dugas flaunts her “show ‘fro” at speaking events, you won’t spot her rocking the spherical hairstyle in all its glory at the grocery store.

“I’ll see people comment, I wouldn’t want to sit behind her in a movie theater. You don’t have to. I do not walk around with a 5-foot ‘fro. That would be silly,” Dugas said. “Sometimes I’ll have it in a puff. It’s an absolutely dynamic hairstyle. I don’t wear it all the time because it draws so much attention, but it’s one that I can manage and wear on a daily basis.”

Dugas normally wears her hair in a bun, and it’s inconspicuous enough that no one would ever guess how big her natural hair is.

When she does wear her hair out, it usually leads to positive interactions and exchanges of compliments with others who have embraced their natural style.

“A lot of people think it’s about taking a pretty picture or having a good hair day. All of that is lagniappe,” Dugas said. “Especially for African American women, it’s more about loving everything about ourselves. At the end of the day, I want people to love themselves and be proud of who they are and what they look like.”

East St. John Literary Club sponsor Paula Henderson said students were receptive to Dugas’ presentation.

“The students asked a lot of questions about personal hair care and gained a lot of great information on how to take care of their natural hair,” Henderson said. “They also had a lot of questions about the Guinness Book of World Records and her title. They were extremely excited!”