Giraffe Woman of America
March 20, 2014

Giraffe Woman Of America

Everyone has a thing of interest. Some people are double-jointed, while others are flexible and limber. Still others have beautiful (or possibly extreme) tattoos or piercings. And the list of ‘the thing’ goes on. Recently, the Huffington Post reported about a different kind of thing of interest: ‘Giraffe Woman’ – the American woman who is actively trying to make her neck longer.

Before getting into that, though, it is important to note that doctors and scientists alike have all said that once a human is done growing, he or she cannot change or elongate bones. So, women who have long necks due to practices such as what will be discussed are really just pressing down the collarbone. Perhaps they stretch the skin, but the neck will go back to its original size once the practice ends.

The practice in the case of Sydney Smith, also known as ‘Giraffe Woman,’ is to wear copper rings around her neck at all times. She even sleeps in them. Currently she has 11 copper rings soldered around her neck. They do have a screw that can be removed in a medical emergency, but Smith proclaimed that as far as she is concerned, the rings are a permanent accoutrement.

She estimates that her neck has likely been stretched to about 10 to 11 inches long. By just measuring my own average neck, it seems that an average neck is probably about 5-6 inches long or so. So, Smith’s neck is about double the length of most people. Her interest in a long neck started as a teenager. She said she always had a long neck. In fact, her classmates called her ‘Giraffe Girl’ then. So, she started sleeping with cut-up coat hangers wrapped around her neck. She stopped this for a while, but picked the habit back up about three years ago when she decided that she wanted to wear the rings again specifically for the purpose of elongating her neck.

She told the Huffington Post that she had missed the feel of the rings around her neck. Despite this, she has had difficulty adjusting. She said she had to adjust to sleeping with the rings as well as adjust to driving because the rings limit her ability to move. However, she claims that her peripheral vision has improved and that she has adapted to the rings.

Another issue she mentioned is the sweating. In summer, her neck starts sweating and she smells. It is possible that she could develop mold under the rings as well. But she claims even these are worth it.

So why do this? As she told the Huff Post, “’I’d like to work as a specialty model, but my original intent was not to exploit myself,’ she said. ‘However, it seems to be my calling.’” She also does not recommend others follow her path. But she does seem pretty happy with her choice.

Women of tribes in Thailand, Myanmar, and Africa engage in this activity as well. Specifically, women of the Kayan tribe have been showcased in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! as well as National Geographic. Smith has long admired and had an interest in these women.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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