A Los Angeles woman who once aspired to be a real-life "giraffe woman" is tired of sticking her neck out.
For five years, Sydney V. Smith had tried to extend the length of her neck by encasing it in 15 copper rings.
"I got it up to 9 or 10 inches," Smith told The Huffington Post. "But I started missing the things I used to do before, like hiking, running and swimming. With these rings, I can only go in waist deep [in the pool]."
Smith's five-year run as the self-described "giraffe woman" was the culmination of a dream that started in junior high.
“I’ve always had a long neck,” Smith told The Huffington Post in 2014. “In middle school, they called me ‘giraffe girl.’"
After seeing photos of the women of the Kayan Lahwi tribes of Thailand and Burma, who encase their necks in rings from an early age, Smith was inspired to emulate them by wrapping cut-up coat hangers around her neck when she went to bed.
She made her dreams reality in 2011 when she outfitted herself with a tight copper necklace.
The result was a longer neck and a small amount of fame, including a photo shoot for Penthouse earlier this year.
There were also unintended consequences.
"A fast lane change is scary when you don't have free range of movement," she told HuffPost last week.
There were other issues.
"I became more introverted and isolated," she said. "I tried to avoid the public. People would always come up to me while I was grocery shopping."
It affected relationships as well.
"They would just want to talk about the rings, and that gets tiring," she said. "Or, a partner would act like they were OK with it, but then ask me to remove it or not bring me around their family."
Smith had debated whether or not to remove the rings for about six months.
"Each time I'd go to do it, I'd feel anxiety. They feel like an integral part of me," she said.
That changed earlier this week. Smith had a friend help her remove her neck rings, which she says was an arduous process.
"A very hardcore glue held the rings together. We had to put a chemical on it to eat through the glue," she said. "Someone then had to pull the rings apart. It was very painful and took about 15 minutes."
When the rings were finally removed, Smith's neck was bruised, and felt weak.
"I did neck exercises with my chiropractor, and that helped," she said.
The bruises have since gone down, but she insists her neck is longer than it was five years ago.
"I believe that a woman with a short neck is not as attractive," she said. "I've grown to appreciate my neckline."
But the rings didn't actually make Smith's neck longer according to Dr. Jonathan Nissanoff, a Southern California orthopedic surgeon.
“If she’s finished growing, then all she’s doing is stretching her skin or putting the bones into traction by pulling them apart,” he told HuffPost in 2014. “The rings aren’t going to make her bones longer. Once she removes them, her neck will come back to size."
Smith says her neckline looks normal, but admits she applied makeup on it before posing for the glamor shot below.
Although she is no longer a "giraffe woman," Smith plans to keep her rings in a glass case to remind her of this period in her life.
The rings will stay with her in other ways as well.
"People have asked me where they can get their own rings, so I may start a line of 'giraffe woman' rings," she said. "Doing this got a lot of my showbiz desire out of my system so I think I'm going to focus on being an entrepreneur."
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