If you aren’t one of Zahab Khan’s 137,000 TikTok followers or 32,000 Instagram followers, you probably haven’t heard about the “longest hair athlete” yet—until now. Yesterday, the Virginia-based professional squash player chopped off 17 years of hair growth for charity, setting a new Guinness World Record for the Most Hair Donated by an Individual.
So why cut her hair now? “My friend Riya Saran and I met a year ago,” says Khan. “I wanted to set a Guinness World Record for a long time, but Riya motivated and encouraged me to set a Guinness World Record this year. We started the process to set the record six months ago. We did a lot of research and talked to the consultants at Guinness World Records. We began fundraising and collecting donations. In four months, we raised $6,600!”
Khan says another driving force was her hope to be a role model for girls who want to take a stand. “I don’t want other kids to face the problems I faced as a female athlete. This motivation and struggle inspired me. My father wanted me to be unique, so he suggested I keep my hair long. When I started playing squash, he wanted me to continue growing my hair to set a Guinness World Record as the Longest Haired Athlete. Unfortunately, Guinness World Records does not have categories for long hair by profession, but I decided that rather than keep my hair for myself, I wanted to donate it to Children With Hair Loss. My hair made me unique, and as an effort to help kids, I decided to donate something that I love. Typically making one wig takes several donations from multiple people, and it requires matching different people’s hair to bring the wig together. Because my hair is so long, Children With Hair Loss will be able to make one wig with just my hair.”
Gregory White, stylist and field education leader for Hair Cuttery Family of Brands, was tasked with performing the record-breaking chop, and consulted with Khan ahead of their meeting. “After having a video call with Zahab, I could tell that she wanted to maintain as much length as possible after her donation. After measurement, it appeared shoulder-length was the way to go. I chose to do an A-line lob, which is a longer version of a bob haircut. This would allow her to still be able to wear it in a low ponytail because she is so athletic. It also added framing to her beautiful face and created a very sophisticated style.”
Before you decide on any drastic hair transformation, White says to always consider your hair texture, facial features and lifestyle. “Make sure what you are dreaming of complements your lifestyle, career and daily activities,” he advises. “For guests considering a drastic change, I always suggest utilizing apps that allow you to virtually try on different styles and colors. You can also find a local wig shop and see what you look like in various styles so that you are confident in your new look before making the leap!”
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