A woman who spent years artificially stretching out her neck with heavy metal rings to look more like a giraffe has decided to give up her unusual goal, saying “logic kicked in.”
Sydney Smith, 30, became obsessed with modifying her body since reading about the Kayan Lahwi tribes of Thailand and Burma, where young girls stretch out their necks by encasing them in heavy metal rings.
“I’ve always had a long neck,” Smith, a Los Angeles resident, told The Huffington Post. “In middle school, they called me ‘giraffe girl.’ Then I saw the pictures of the long-necked tribes in Thailand and Burma in National Geographic and I became fascinated with them.”
As an adolescent, she would wrap coat hangers around her neck every night before she went to bed. She briefly stopped for a few years to contemplate whether she really wanted to modify her body so dramatically.
In 2011, she decided to take her quest for a longer neck to the extreme, purchasing a heavy, tight-fitting copper necklace to push down her collarbone. Over the next five years, she would gradually add more rings around her neck, which she never removed, even when sleeping or driving.
According to Daily Mail, at one point she had 15 rings soldered around her neck, which weighed around 5 pounds.
She has since announced that she will no longer be the “giraffe woman,” as she calls herself, and plans to remove the heavy rings.
“I couldn’t function properly as a long neck woman with 15 rings around my neck in the United States of America,” she said. “Unless you are willing to completely isolate yourself and you’re a trust fund baby and don’t ever need to leave the house, don’t ever need to drive, then maybe you can pull it off.”
She says that at some point the rings became the defining feature of her personality and that she began losing her sense of self.
“I spent five years of my life with rings around my neck and I just became very introverted and isolated and felt like the rings were taking over my life in every way,” she said. “It was always about the rings, it wasn’t about Sydney anymore. I tried sticking my neck out to make it work but logic kicked in after a while.”
Smith now sees a physical therapist multiple times a week to help with the stiffness wrought by the rings. She says she is recovering more quickly than doctors expected and that her neck doesn’t seem to have any permanent damage.
“People have this misconception that they think that your neck is going to look super long when you remove the rings,” she said. “It goes back to normal. I do feel my neck is longer than when I started but I feel like it has shrunk since I took them off.”
She says she doesn’t regret making the initial choice to elongate her neck, saying that the heavy rings provided a feeling of comfort and security.
“I really enjoyed the feeling of the rings around my neck,” she said. “I miss the sensation of the weight on the collarbones, which was in a weird way very comforting.”