Sydney Smith is a woman from Los Angeles, California, who wants to achieve a strange look: she wants to elongate her neck to look similar to a giraffe. For the past five years, she’s been stretching her neck using painful metal rings, obtaining the nickname “Giraffe Woman.” Now, it’s time for the rings to come off.
Smith got this idea on a trip to Africa, where she observed giraffes along with the Kayan people. The women in that culture undergo neck stretching and this woman wanted to look just like them. She found their look very alluring and elegant.
Her goal was to have one of the longest necks in the world. At its heaviest, Smith was wearing 15 rings that added an extra five pounds of pressure to her neck. These rings are used by women around the world in cultures where an elongated neck is considered a sign of beauty.
The rings work by pushing down the clavicle and the ribs in order to give the appearance of a longer neck. The neck actually is the same length, but after the rest of the body is pushed down the neck appears longer.
After five years, Smith has decided to give up on her quest of a longer neck. She reveals that the rings have actually caused her a variety of problems, both physical and mental. She has decided to take the rings off for good after, as she put it, logic kicked in.
Wearing these rings caused her bruising and stiffness in her neck. It limited her ability to move her neck and affected her mobility in general. That impacted her life in many ways, the most difficult being the inability to drive. When a person can’t turn their head to see what’s on the road, they can’t operate a motor vehicle safely.
It also left her isolated from those around her. Her unique quest impacted her ability to get work and became a barrier to meeting new people. She wound up spending inordinate amounts of time alone in her apartment, all due to the rings. Eventually, she began to realize that these rings were ruling her life and she needed to make a change.
She is now in physical therapy to correct the issues that these rings caused. Her doctors are encouraged by her progress and expect her neck to be perfectly healthy soon.
While she is giving up on her quest for a longer neck, Smith doesn’t regret wearing those rings. She said that she actually misses them in some ways. The pressure on her collarbones was oddly comforting, Smith said. She had gotten so used to wearing them that it’s now odd that they’re gone.
As for her neck, she said it does look a little bit longer but is starting to shrink back to normal. She had a misconception that her neck would look incredibly long when she took off the rings, but the difference was pretty minor.
Even though she’s given up this quest, she still considers herself the “Giraffe Woman.” We’re not sure if the rings had an affect, but we think her neck looks great.