A real-life Rapunzel with two meter-long hair, who has not had her locks trimmed since she was five-years-old, is so proud of her magnificent mane she even stars in Christmas shows as her alter ego.
But unlike the Grimms’ fairy tale character, who famously let down her endless hair from the window in her prison tower, so a handsome prince could climb up, Alena Kravchenko, 33, is a successful businesswoman and mum to six-year-old twins, Valeria and Miroslava.
Alena, of Odessa, Ukraine, whose husband Alexander, 34, is a civil servant, has revealed that the secret to keeping locks luscious is washing them no more than once every three weeks, adding:
“I love my precious long hair and love taking care of it.”
“But I don’t wash it very often, because I think that products are not good for it and can make it thinner and can stunt its growth.”
“I like to be natural and the natural oils in your hair are what is best for it and help to preserve its glossiness.”
Alena, who runs a business organizing children’s parties, also loves being compared to fairy tale heroine Rapunzel.
Alena has appeared in a local film production of Rapunzel (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I usually like to keep my hair tied up in a bun, but when I let it down it does attract a lot of attention and people often take photographs and call me Rapunzel, which for me is a great honor.”
“I think it makes me stand out and makes me unique – so I’m very happy if that’s how people see me.”
Having only been for a haircut once in her life, when she was five, Alena recalled her mum, Angela, 54, being a great believer that beautiful long hair was important for a woman.
Alena says she feels proud whenever people liken her to Rapunzel (Collect/PA Real Life)
“For as long as I can remember my mother would tell me that feminine beauty stems directly from a woman’s hair.”
“Over the years I realised that she was right, as there really is nothing more beautiful in the world than a woman with natural, flowing hair.”
While she has occasionally trimmed the split ends on the ends of her hair herself, she has never allowed anyone else to cut it again, meaning Alena’s hair had grown half way down her back when she reached her teens.
Alena has not cut her hair since she was five years old (Collect/PA Real Life)
When she moved into her 20s it reached her waist, then her knees—eventually touching the floor in her early 30s.
With her mane so long she has actually tripped over it, Alena usually wears it in a bun, or plait—literally, only letting her hair down either at weekends or on holiday.
“It’s now become a bit of a treat to let my hair down, because it is far more comfortable, as in a bun it can be quite heavy,” explained Alena, who met her husband Alexander 11 years ago in Odessa, marrying a year later.
Alena usually keeps her hair neatly wrapped up in a bun (Collect/PA Real Life)
“As my two children have grown older, I’ve had to start to tying it up more as well, because they like to play with it when it’s down and yank at it!”
And, while her hair no longer grows as fast, it is still gradually getting longer.
“I don’t think it grows as quickly as it used to.”
Alena has two twins with her husband Alexander (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I read recently that hair growth is a sign of physical and mental well-being, which—if it’s true—shows that I’m doing something right!”
Now, 28 years since she visited a hairdresser, Alena has no intention of going back, saying that her hair is her “identity” and without it she would not be herself.
“It makes me who I am—a unique woman, who clearly has a lot of dedication to the things she cares about.”
Alena says the secret to keeping her hair healthy is to not wash it any more than once every three weeks (Collect/PA Real Life)
“I am quite a humble person, but I love the way people look at me on the rare occasions I do let it down.”
“I remember the first time my husband saw me with it down—which was maybe on the third or fourth date—and it came as quite a shock to him.”
“But after he had got over the surprise, he saw how unusual and beautiful it was.”
Alena’s mother instilled in her the ‘feminine beauty’ of long hair (Collect/PA Real Life)
Hoping to bring her daughters up with the same love of long locks, Alena has yet to cut Valeria or Miroslava’s hair, but says that they will be free to choose whether or not they want to spend the rest of their lives maintaining two-meter tresses.
“I’d like them to know that long hair is something beautiful and something to be proud of.”
“Hopefully, they will see in me how much pride I take from it and how much pleasure it has given me over the years.”
A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.