beauty

Father-Daughter Duo Who Went Viral For Their Awesome Natural Hair Break World Record

by Kim Wong-Shing

Benny Harlem, a New York model and social media sensation, has dedicated his life to two things: his hair and his family (though not necessarily in that order). He and his now-9-year-old daughter, Jaxyn, went viral in the summer of 2016 after people on social media stumbled upon photos of their badass natural hair. Two years later, this father-daughter duo and their hair are once again taking the internet by storm — and this time around, Benny’s got a Guinness World Record under his belt.

Benny and Jaxyn frequently share photos of their incredible hairstyles on Instagram, which range in style from massive afros to long braids. Their photo shoots often promote cultural pride and positivity, with the two frequently posing as Black Panthers and tribal royalty. Benny currently has more than 475,000 people following his account, and it’s clear to see why. In fact, his seriously breathtaking hair earned him a world record last fall for the highest high-top fade.

Still, Benny and Jaxyn’s hair isn’t the only wonderful thing about their shoots: They share an unbreakable bond with each other, and it shows.

“We are divinely connected,” Benny told i-D in 2017. “A lot of things are too personal to speak on but my connection with my baby exceeds anything I’ve ever known. That’s a huge reason why I give her the world.”

Benny’s dedication to his daughter serves as an example to other struggling dads: Many have penned letters to him to thank him for the inspiration, which he often shares on Instagram.

“I cried for hours looking at the pictures with you and your pretty daughter,” wrote Leroy from Raleigh, North Carolina. “It inspired me to get in contact with my children as soon as I could.”

See more of this inspiring father-daughter duo below.

To remember who you are you must forget who they told you to be.

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Jaxyn told i-D that she got her self-confidence from her mom and dad: “My parents believe in me and because of that I believe in myself so much!”

As of last year, the duo was working on a documentary with HBO. People just can’t get enough of their story!

“I’ve been taught to remember where I’ve been and to honor those who have come before me, while I hold my parents’ hands as I walk into my destiny,” Jaxyn told i-D. Wow, that’s quite the statement from a 9-year-old!

The release of the movie Black Panther served as the perfect photoshoot inspiration. Benny and Jaxyn Harlem would be right at home in Black Panther II, no?

Benny associates his super-long hair with African tradition, he told i-D, explaining that “the longer the hair in a male, the more ‘wisdom’ and wiser he was assumed to be” in traditional African societies.

Benny’s wife, Kourtney, appears in some of their viral photos as well. Though her hair isn’t as long as her husband’s, her beauty is remarkable – it’s easy to see where Jaxyn gets her looks from!

Benny and Jaxyn offered i-D several important tidbits of advice for maintaining such long hair: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and use regular deep conditioning treatments.

Some of Benny and Jaxyn’s photoshoots double as social commentaries, like this image, shot at a California state prison.

Welcome To The Main Event

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There’s just one thing about this duo that remains a mystery to this day: Exactly how many hours does it take them to detangle their hair?!

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Clearly, this family knows hair. Benny has founded his own hair care line, Harlem Hair Care Institute, to help others reach hair lengths that are as impressive as his own.

"Hi Mr. King Benny Harlem!! Ok you don't me and you don't know this but you changed my Life. In the middle of 2016 Me and my boyfriend went to the Hospital to terminate a pregnancy, I was crying all morning and could hardly get out of bed because I just felt like I was guilty or something! I felt like I had to do this though my boyfriend was looking for work looking for work, we both was staying with my mom and money was tight, so you know .. it was the only thing to do. Me and boyfriend got to the hospital checked in and waited in the waiting room. while we were waiting my boyfriend was on his Instagram and this picture of you and your family came up out of nowhere. First he started crying and he put his hand over his face, I keep asking him what's wrong? What's wrong? He looked at me and said " I'm about to make my first decision for my child and as a parent" He grabbed me up and rushed us both out the Hospital. Fast forward to today Your the reason why he has more drove your the reason why he got a job 6 months later and put us in our own apartment. your also the reason why Malika Tia Johnson is here today a healthy baby girl. When we have a son we plan to name him after Benny harlem , The man that saved his big sisters life. Can't thank you enough!! Don't ever stop your Art or your message for NOBODY!!!! EVER!!! Cause you changed our lives! Love you Benny" – Elaina Via Facebook (Photographer Landon Moreau Art Director Benny Harlem)

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Benny uses rare local products like Ethiopian frankincense butter and Ethiopian kachieia butter to maintain his own locks. (You can find those ingredients in his line of hair care products!)

Dear Benny Harlem, My name is Leroy. I haven't seen my Daughters since they was both babies. One is 8 and the other is 10. I'm now 34 and I live in Raleigh NC. Only one city away from my girls. I never knew my father at all. My mother was a drug addict and left me in our apartment alone for 4 days until the neighbors broke in and took me in when I was 4 years old. On Father's Day I saw your message to fathers on a blog and then I saw your Instagram. Bro I cried for hours looking at the pictures with you and your pretty daughter. It inspired me to get in contact with my children as soon as I could. I found their Aunts on Facebook and received a message back on my Monday and guess what? Benny she set it up for me to finally reunite with my kids on the 4th! I'm so happy and relieved to have a second chance. Benny I'm sending this email to say your a Hero and sent from God himself I never thought Id have the courage to wanna raise them up. but you inspired me to be a great man like you. You changed my life forever and I feel like you saved my two little girls lives by inspiring me to come back home to them. Benny Harlem I have a plan and I'm working on getting a second job to support my girls. I promise God and You Benny that i will never leave them ever again. The world needs you man. Thank you Benny." Leroy From Raleigh NC –

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About her father, Jaxyn says, “He really is the most wonderful man in the world. His soul inspires me to be my best. Daddy is my confidant and my teacher. Not just in my school studies, but my teacher in life.”

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We may not all be able to have hair like Benny and Jaxyn’s, but their close relationship is definitely #goals.