Sydney V. Smith is putting herself out there and admitting she wants to be a “giraffe woman.”
The 28-year-old Los Angeles resident has been attempting to lengthen her neck by encasing it in 11 copper rings since 2011.
Smith told The Huffington Post, “I’ve always had a long neck.” “They called me ‘giraffe girl’ in middle school. Then I saw National Geographic photos of long-necked tribes in Thailand and Burma and became fascinated by them.”
The 15 Rings
Sydney purchased 15 brass rings weighing nearly five pounds to lengthen her neck. “I got it up to about 9 or 10 inches,” Sydney explained. She was referring to the length of her neck while wearing the rings. Sydney soon discovered, however, that the rings were causing her a lot of harm by preventing her from doing normal things in life.
Impact on Love Life
Sydney’s love life was also becoming difficult. People would not treat her as if she were a normal woman. They’d either be obsessed with her neck braces or embarrassed to be seen with her in public. “They’d just want to talk about the rings, and that gets old,” she explained. “Or, a partner would act as if they were fine with it, but then ask me to take it away or not bring me around their family.”
Tribal origins from the past
Sydney’s fascination with wearing brass rings around her neck stemmed from the Kayan Lahwi ethnic group of Burma. The centuries-old custom’s meaning has been lost to time, and it is now a symbol of cultural identity. Regardless, Western anthropologists have proposed several possible origins, concluding that the coils are worn by the tribe’s women to make them appear less attractive to members of other tribes, making them less likely to be kidnapped.
Others, on the other hand, claimed they were intended to make them more appealing to men from their own tribes. Sydney couldn’t take her gaze away for any reason. She knew she would act as soon as she was old enough to make her dream a reality.
A stuttering start
Sydney was convinced that her nighttime neck stretching made her neck longer. She then paused for several years to consider whether “being a long-necked woman was truly what I desired.”
She thought about it and decided to go ahead with it, having a tight-fitting copper necklace made to encase her neck. Her reasoning was straightforward: “I missed the comfort of having pressure on the top of my neck and shoulders.” She didn’t do it for anyone else; she did it solely for the comfort and exhilaration it provided her.
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An unexpected source of inspiration
The giraffe woman decided to make the change after being inspired by Lady Gaga, whom she saw in concert. “Her freak empowerment message spoke to me,” Sydney said. “I reasoned that if she could wear meat dresses, I could be a giraffe woman.” As a result, she had a friend make personalized rings, which he then soldered around her neck.
It wasn’t easy, and her skin was burned as a result, but it was done. She’d be the giraffe woman she’d always wanted to be. However, the transformation would be difficult.
Modification leads to fame
However, Ripley’s was not the only one who came knocking. In no time, modeling offers began to pour in, and Sydney found herself fielding offers to appear as a model in a variety of capacities.
One of those offers came from Penthouse magazine, and she agreed to model for a circus-themed spread alongside several other “sideshow attraction” women. Unfortunately, this was not the first time women with neck rings were regarded as sideshow freaks. In fact, Sydney’s inspiration for taking up the rings blazed a trail in that regard.
Taking Out the Coils
Sydney claims that even after she removed the coils, she retained her giraffe woman persona. Her body had also undergone changes. She had severe bruising around her collarbone after the coils were removed, as you would expect after wearing five-pound weights around your neck for five years.
She Became Surprisingly Famous
Despite the health risks, Sydney Smith was unable to see any benefit from wearing the rings. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! featured her. Ripley’s has featured the long-necked ladies of the Kayan Lahwi tribe since 1923.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! staff once videotaped one of the Kayan Lahwi tribe ladies removing her rings. Her neck was damaged and even had mold growing on it, despite the fact that she was unharmed by it.
An Unhealthy Option
Because the rings would press down on the collar bone, they would only give the appearance of a longer neck. Wearing rings around the neck compresses the rib cage of anyone who wears them. This is one of the reasons why Kayan women who regularly wear the rings have higher blood pressure and frequently die from strokes at a young age.