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Fairy-tale Factoids!

Better hope those aren't extensions.
Better hope those aren’t extensions.

Welcome to the very first Fairy-tale Factoids! I thought it’d be fun every once in a while to look into the facts and figures that lay behind famous fairy-tales. I decided to start with Rapunzel. Does she really have the longest hair in the world? Let’s find out!

Rapunzel is a German fairy-tale collected by the brothers Grimm. The story was first published in 1812 in the collection Children’s and Household Tales. The tale could have roots (haha) that go back as far as 10th century Persia.

The original versions of the story are somewhat dark. Essentially, an enchantress takes possession of a man’s baby as payment for sparing his life and names it Rapunzel. Once Rapunzel reaches twelve years of age, the witch puts her in a tower with no stairs or door, and only one room at the top. Rapunzel is the most beautiful girl in the world, and the witch seeks to keep her for herself.

The witch gets into and out of the tower via Rapunzel’s long beautiful hair. One day a prince sees her do it and tries it himself. The two fall in love, yadda yadda. Instead of taking her away one day, the witch finds out and casts out Rapunzel after cutting off her hair. She tricks the prince into coming up and then promptly drops his ass back down, blinding him in the process. He eventually finds her in the woods and her tears fix his eyes because Visine hadn’t been invented yet.

You get the idea. The focus of our studies today is that famous long hair of hers. Just how long was it? Well, the original story doesn’t tell you. The end! Just kidding… For the sake of simplicity we’ll go with how long Rapunzel’s hair was in the 2010 movie Tangled: 70 feet long! So how does real life stack up against the fiction?

Well, that depends on the classification. The Guinness approved world record for longest hair goes to Xie Qiuping of China with 18 1/2 feet of hair. The record for longest dreadlocks goes to Asha Mandela. Her hair is over 19 feet long, with one dreadlock more than 55 feet long. Why dreadlocks don’t count as hair, I don’t know, but there you go. Both real life record holders come up well short of finding their princes.

I’m sure that’s small comfort to someone who’s been locked up in a tower all their life and been psychologically tortured for like, EVER. But, you know…