A woman ‘obsessed’ with giraffes has given up her goal of lengthening her neck. 30-year-old Sydney Smith of Los Angeles, dubbed “the giraffe woman,” wanted to be renowned worldwide for her long neck. She succeeded in her dream of becoming like the women of the Burmese tribe she admired but found the cost to be dear.
Sydney had her own set of rings custom-made after being inspired by the Kayan people of Southeast Asia, known for stretching their necks with brass coils. She spent five years gradually adding more rings in an attempt to push down her collarbone. At its heaviest, the stack was made up of 15 rings and weighed 5 pounds.
A Lifelong Ambition
Sydney V. Smith had a long-held ambition which she tried her best to achieve. She’d always wanted to be a “giraffe woman” since she was a child. She began obsessing over old National Geographic magazines while in middle school, particularly ones featuring ladies from the Kayan Lahwi tribe, which originated in Thailand and Burma.
The images of these women fascinated her, and she knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish even at that little age. She began simply by sleeping with cut-up coat hangers around her neck, and she refused to let anything get in the way of her dream. But before we can look at where she was heading, we must first look at where she came from.
Origins in Ancient Tribal Societies
Sydney’s fascination with wearing brass rings around her neck stemmed from Burma’s Kayan Lah ethnic tribe. The essence of these centuries-old habits has faded with time, and it is now a marker of cultural identity. Regardless, Western anthropologists have proposed numerous alternative origins.
There is a conclusion that the women of the tribe wear the coils to seem less appealing to members of other tribes, reducing their chances of being kidnapped. On the other hand, some say they were meant to make them more attractive to males from their 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 fantasy a reality.
A Stuttering Start
Sydney was a firm believer in her ambition of having a considerably longer neck. Her overnight neck stretching did lengthen her neck. She then took a few years off to explore whether “becoming a long-necked lady was actually what I desired.”
She considered it for a while before choosing to go ahead and have a tight-fitting copper necklace created for her neck. “I missed the comfort from the pressure on the top of my neck and shoulders,” she said simply. She didn’t do it for anybody else; she did it for herself, the comfort and excitement it provided.
Doubts Begin To Creep In
Sydney felt self-conscious despite going through the procedure methodically and only adding another ring to the necklace when she thought she was ready. She says she was unsure how people would react to this mission and began wearing turtleneck sweaters that hid her neck rings while living in Maryland at the time.
She also avoided unwanted attention by working in restaurants that did not require her to engage with customers. She could feel the muscles in her neck becoming weaker as time went on. She’d come to a crossroads: either remove the rings before it was too late or stay committed.
Inspiration in the Most Unexpected Places
The giraffe woman was inspired by Lady Gaga, whom she had seen in concert, and decided to go forward with the makeover. Sydney stated, “Her freak empowerment message made a lot of sense to me.” “If she can wear meat clothes, I can be a giraffe lady,” she says.
As a result, she had a friend custom-make her rings, which he then soldered around her neck. It wasn’t easy, and she was burnt in the process, but she got it done. She’d be the giraffe lady she’d always wanted to be. However, it would be challenging.
Several Challenges Await Her
Adding a few improvements to your body will, of course, change its natural condition and might represent a significant problem. Sydney’s health was one of the apparent drawbacks of having the neck coils around her neck. It limited her range of motion, for starters, making driving difficult, even though she claimed her peripheral vision had increased.
Another concern was social, as she stated that if she is not in an air-conditioned environment during the hot summer months, her neck sweats, and she begins to stink. What was the effect of her bodily alteration on her love life?
A Life Spent Alone
Sydney found it impossible to lead a regular life and grew shy and secluded, despite her resolve to wear the neck coils for her benefit and no one else’s. “I tried to stay away from the public,” she continued. “While I went grocery shopping, people would approach me.” People also asked her a lot of ridiculous questions, which she had to put up with.
Relationships were also more difficult for her. Most of her dates were just interested in talking about the rings, which quickly became tedious. Even if the guy pretended to be OK with them, they’d still want her to keep them away from their family.
Experts Warned Her
Her health was also on the line. Dr. Jonathan Nissanoff, an orthopedic surgeon in Southern California, stated that stretching her neck in this way was potentially harmful since it may injure her neck nerves. Sydney started wearing her rings after she was an adult and had completed growing, unlike the Kayan Lahwi women who started wearing them when they were five years old.
He said that all she was doing at the time was stretching her skin or putting her bones into traction by pushing them apart. She was just tugging down on her clavicle and rib cage, and her bones were never made longer. If she wasn’t careful, this practice could lead her into problems; maybe it eventually did.
She Became Strangely Famous
Despite the health hazards, Sydney Smith could not say she saw any benefit due to her decision to wear the rings. She was featured on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! The long-necked ladies of the Kayan Lahwi tribe have been Ripley’s fixture since 1923.
A staff from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! once videotaped one of the Kayan Lahwi tribe ladies taking off her rings. Her neck was damaged and even had mold growing on it, even though she was not harmed by it.
Her Alterations Boosted Her Celebrity
Ripley’s was not the only one that came knocking on Sydney’s door. Modeling opportunities began to flood in quickly, and Sydney soon found herself answering requests to appear as a model in various capacities.
Penthouse magazine made her one of those offers, and she accepted to model for a spread with a unique circus motif, among many other “sideshow attraction” ladies. Sadly, it wasn’t the first time that ladies wearing neck rings were seen as carnival freaks. Sydney’s motivation for picking up the rings paved the way in this regard.
The Human Ringmaster
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!’ images and exhibits of women from the Kayan Lahwi tribe are still used in tourist attractions around the United States to show the various unusual features of foreign cultures. However, going back further reveals that the tribe women were formerly utilized as actual attractions, an act that is far from appealing.
Circuses were known to kidnap these ladies from their homelands and bring them to Europe and the United States to serve as public displays in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even well-known circuses like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took part in the exercise.
Human Sideshow Acts in the Present Day
While the practice of forcibly using individuals to participate as circus attractions has thankfully died out, modern-day acts continue to utilize humans as consenting performers, particularly those who like body alteration. Some of these displays are way more ridiculous than endearing. Take, for example, Katzen the Tiger Lady, a sideshow performer in Texas.
Katzen was named after the German term for “cats.” She had tiger-like stripes tattooed all over her body. She even had pierced whiskers implanted in her face. Do you think that’s far-fetched? The Enigma, her ex-husband, has horn-like implants, several body piercings, and a full-body jigsaw puzzle tattoo.
The Actual Cat Woman
Circuses contain some of the strangest physical modifications, but these weird body transformations aren’t limited to circus performers. On the other hand, one Swiss lady is said to have had many procedures to give her a cat-like look to impress her then-husband. The Catwoman is a socialite known as Jocelyn Wildenstein.
She had firmly disputed the charges, claiming she had never had any treatment done and blaming her distinctive appearance on her Swiss genes. Her ex-husband, according to Wildenstein, manufactured the rumors to tarnish her. Whatever the case may have been, she certainly stood out. Sydney’s bodily changes, despite being less drastic, begin to take their toll.
Pressure Begins To Bear Down On Her
Sydney was known to accumulate more and more rings throughout five years. She got as far as 15 rings, whereas the indigenous women who inspired her got up to 20 or 25 rings. Nonetheless, with the rings taking over her life, they made her feel profoundly separated from the rest of mankind.
“It wasn’t about Sydney anymore,” she complained, “it was always about the rings… I couldn’t function properly.” She is seen to have debated over whether or not to get them removed for six months. She’d finally made up her mind and was making plans to have them removed.
A Pivotal Choice
Who thought getting rid of a burden like this would become nearly impossible in the end? She broke down and intended to have them removed multiple times, only to back out at the last minute due to “worry” she felt because the rings had become an “integral part” of her.
It would take some time, but she ultimately decided to remove them and summoned the guts to do it. It wasn’t an easy decision for her because she had a lot of questions racing through her head all the time. What would she do if she had to do it? Would it be harmful? What’s more, what kind of long-term repercussions would it have on her neck?
The Rings Are Removed
Sydney understands that getting the rings out won’t be easy. She needed a friend’s help to remove the rings, which she described as “arduous” because they were bonded together by a particularly powerful form of adhesive. As a result, the first order of business was to apply a chemical to them to eat through the adhesive.
The rings may then be cut through and removed after they have completed their task. She described it as excruciatingly painful and lasting around 15 minutes. However, after it was through, she was finally free of their literal and metaphorical weight. What did her neck look like five years later?
It’s All Black and Blue
Getting the rings provided relief, but not after a bit of a struggle. For the first time in half a decade, she could see what her neck looked like without the rings. It wasn’t a beautiful picture since it was covered in black bruises and felt quite feeble at first, “like arms on a toothpick.”
The bruises faded over time, but Sydney still needed to work with her chiropractor to repair the health of her neck. She also went to physical therapy many times a week to help with the rings’ stiffness. Was it all worthwhile? Only Sydney can tell.
She Has No Regrets
Sydney had stated that she had no regrets about her body change, despite the discomfort and subsequent recovery. “I loved the sensation of them around my neck,” she said, adding that she missed the weight on her collarbones, which she described as “weirdly soothing.”
She also claimed they had lengthened her neck, stating it had grown to nine or ten inches. She remained steadfast in her decision, even though it made her miss even the most basic activities she used to be able to perform, such as jogging and hiking. What was she going to do now?
She Was Matched With the Ideal Mate
Getting rid of the rings brought comfort to Sydney in many aspects. For the first time in five years, she was also allowed to seek a meaningful relationship, not as the “giraffe lady,” but simply as Sydney Smith, after years of struggling with romances that went nowhere because all men could focus on were the rings around her neck.
As it turned out, her increased efforts were highly effective. Sydney had found a companion, and she could finally see that he liked her for who she was, not for the rings or the celebrity that came with them. Her life was permanently transformed not long after that.
Newborn Giraffe Is Warmly Welcomed
Some old habits never leave entirely. Sydney began wearing a detachable version of the necklace because she missed the feeling of the rings around her neck. The birth of her first daughter, Skyler Rose, on June 6, 2017, gave her a reason to stop wearing them entirely.
Sydney could think about her obsession and how she might share it with the world again now that both her mother and daughter were well and happy. For example, a “giraffe woman” jewelry line was a possibility. While Sydney’s body alteration adventure appeared to be coming to an end, another young woman was only getting started.
White Dragon with Blue Eyes
The desire to stand out can sometimes be taken too far. Amber Luke, a 23-year-old Australian, may be the world’s current body alteration queen. Despite her age, Luke, lovingly referred to by her pals as “Blue-Eyes White Dragon,” has more than 50 tattoos on her body.
Her infatuation and self-described addiction had begun when she was just 16 years old. Despite her golden hair and perfect complexion, Luke stated she “hated” her looks, calling it “very simple” and “boring.” She’d make it right as quickly as she could. But these transformations were a bit overwhelming to see.
The Adventure Begins
Amber got her first tattoo because she “wanted to know what it felt like.” By the time she was 18, she had three tattoos on her body. Her body is now covered in art, but it has also been altered by it. This odd transformation has been intriguing to her for reasons best known to her.
She got her tongue sliced in half about a year ago to make her seem like a snake. She proudly shared the video on social media, thanking the piercing artist for “making me a part of the snake family.”
A Significant Shift
These body changes didn’t seem enough, and Amber wanted to do more. She decided to tattoo the whites of her eyes blue to break the cliché of blonde hair and blue eyes. The danger was obvious: if the treatment went wrong, she might have gone blind for the rest of her life.
She pushed through with determination, sitting for 40 minutes for what she described as an “excruciating” procedure that left her unable to see well for three weeks. Regardless, it was completed, and she was pleased with the outcome. Was her family, on the other hand, as thrilled as she was?
She Didn’t Have Any Regrets
Amber’s incredible metamorphosis was a fantasy come true for her. She informed the reporters that she had no regrets about her physical alterations, which included injecting silicone into her ears to make them more pointed. She went on to say that she was “very enamored with her beauty.”
This achievement, on the other hand, wasn’t only for her. Her inner circle of relatives and friends has given her nothing but positive comments on her transformation, she noted, not least from one extremely crucial person – her mother. What could be better than a pat on the back from your special someone?
A Mother’s Love Conquers All
Not everyone can accomplish the seemingly impossible. Amber said her friends have all been incredibly supportive throughout the procedure. Her mother has been her “greatest supporter since day one” when asked about how her substantial bodily alterations have been handled by those closest to her.
Nonetheless, she grieved when she found out Amber had her eyeballs tattooed, but she ultimately warmed up to the concept. She found a mixed bag of reactions from individuals on the street. That’s because everyone has their own set of moral norms that appeal to them in different ways.
Haters Are Drowned Out By Positivity
Amber’s fashion choices, if we may agree, were a little strange, leading to a wide range of reactions. Many individuals tried to pull Amber down, but she said she ignored them since her decisions involved her body, which she claimed was hers to do with as she wanted.
Despite the unfavorable reactions, her picture was nevertheless surrounded by a lot of positivity. She said people were more interested in her looks than anything else, rather than being discriminated against. It was close to a fellow Australian who calls himself the “world’s most modified youth.”
A Strange-Looking Man
Sydney’s metal rings and Amber’s blue eyes weren’t the only oddities. Ethan Bramble, 21, describes himself as the “world’s most changed youth,” with more than 150 tattoos and 40 procedures. It all started when he was 11 years old and had his ears extended!
His fascination with strange changes continues. He hasn’t slowed down in the last decade, describing himself as a “strange-looking person.” His eyeballs were tattooed black, which became one of his most famous changes. This man’s operation piqued Amber’s initial interest and curiosity.
Imitation in Its Purest Form
Amber had planned to mimic Ethan’s exact look by totally blackening her eyelids. Still, her body mod artist persuaded her to go a different path, who urged her to go blue instead because it would be slightly safer and make her “natural eye color pop.”
She agreed to this new look, and the rest is history, as they say. Is she finally finished? Was her body ready to be exhibited as a live-work of art? It turns out that this was not the case. It quickly became clear that neither blue nor black eyes were as appealing as they had imagined. But what right do we have to intervene in their decision-making processes?
A Few More for the Collection
It’s difficult to understand what motivates body modders. Is it just for fun, or is there something else going on? Amber was planning a sharp new addition to her expanding collection of changes, sharpening her two canines to mimic vampire teeth, on top of getting another tattoo on her right leg.
Did she have any red lines, given what she’d done and planned to do? She did, in fact; unlike many other body modders, she refused to receive dermal implants. She had considered having horns implanted into her skin, but she decided against it because she didn’t think they would suit her.
Parting Words of Advice
For anyone looking to get someone or two body modifications, Amber had some words of advice, as there is no teacher better than experience. If there was any single piece of advice to give newcomers, it was, according to Amber, to do your research before committing to anything.
Second, and no less important, was to find an artist you could trust and bond with. And lastly, in any event, she advised me to sit on the decision for a while before acting on it. Sage advice from a young pro indeed. Her experience is enough to qualify her for such a position.
A Commitment That Will Last a Lifetime
Anyone considering having a permanent tattoo or piercing should carefully consider Amber’s recommendations, as they are crucial. While Sydney’s change was spectacular, it was essentially reversible; Amber’s tattoos and piercings are permanent. While laser hair removal is a viable option, it is both costly and uncomfortable.
No one is going to tell you how to spend your money, but you must be cautious. Always remember to think about whether you want that “I heart Mom” tattoo to stay on your body for the rest of your life before you get it. However, keep in mind the potential threats.
There’s a Thorn in Every Rose
Tattoos and piercings are no exception to the rule that any invasive modification we make to our bodies comes with dangers and adverse effects. Did you realize, for example, that you could be allergic to tattoo ink? Not only that, but the allergic reaction might occur years after the tattoo has been applied.
Infections of the skin and granuloma, an inflammation of the skin around the tattoo, are both serious risks. Piercings carry the same dangers. Even if everything goes perfectly, there are other, less tangible consequences. Preventing these dangers entails staying away from them unless you’re prepared to face the consequences.
Addicted To the Discomfort
Many people who get tattoos get more than one. Some people believe it is a true addiction. Although it is still debatable if body modifications can lead to addiction, they do provide a momentary thrill, as both adrenaline and its cousin endorphins are created during the operation and provide a true “high.”
If you’re thinking of getting a body modification, make sure you’re not simply doing it for the kicks. For many people, especially first-timers, the sensation may be appealing but resist the impulse. It’s important to remember that it’s not simply how you feel about them that should worry you.
Consider Your Next Job Interview
According to a 2015 poll, almost three out of ten Americans had at least one tattoo, while another survey put the percentage at a significantly lower 14 percent. Whatever the situation may be, one thing is certain: the number of people who have had tattoos in one form or another has steadily increased over time.
That may appear encouraging, but the figures are severely skewed, as ink is more popular among millennials than among, for example, baby boomers. Getting this ink may appeal to you, but do you know how it feels to others? Is the interviewer going to enjoy your neck tattoo when you go in for a job interview?
Eventual Regrets Are Not Hard To Come By
Your job search isn’t the only thing on your mind. According to one survey, 17% of tattoo owners regret getting them, women regretting their art more than men. What is the most common cause of regret? It’s easy to guess – getting a tattoo of someone else’s name, and then everything falls apart.
What’s less well-known is that, even if you adore your tattoo, it will fade and lose its glitter over time. After all of this, why do people continue to love various bodily modifications? Perhaps one day, an ink enthusiast will be able to supply the answers that are sorely required.
Modern Application of Ancient Art
Tattoos did not become popular in the modern era. For thousands of years, people have had their bodies altered. In reality, the oldest known tattooed human, Tzi the Iceman, lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE and was discovered with 61 soot tattoos. But why do people nowadays get tattoos?
The causes for this are numerous. It reflects their personality, or they believe it enhances their appearance. Perhaps they enjoy the art, use tattoos to tell their stories, or transform into someone entirely different. Make sure it’s right for you, whatever your motive may be. Getting a tattoo is a significant step, so consider it carefully.