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Cultural Beauty: Mystery behind "neck stretching"

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It doesn't matter which culture you are from, each one has their own symbol of what beauty is. In some African and Asian cultures, a woman with an extremely long neck is considered beautiful. However, it is not enough to stand up straight and tall to appear longer, many of these cultures rely upon a tradition known as "neck stretching." During this process neck coils, made of copper brass,  are individually placed throughout the years around a woman's neck starting around the age of two. The neck is elongated after the pressure of the neck rings cause the shoulder blade to become deformed, thus creating an elongated neck. The length of the neck on these beautiful women is actually an "illusion." The space between the vertebrae may increase, however, it does not actually elongate. In fact the rings twists both the collar bone and the upper ribs at a lower angle, creating this magnificent illusion. Coils can generally always be removed, but,  they are usually worn so long that it can be an extremely difficult for a person to hold their head up after the removal process. The full set of weight of the coils is around 22 pounds or 10 kilos. Also, the brass coils can be worn around different portions of the body, such as the legs (VIEW VIDEO BELOW).

People who are a part of this unique cultural practice are often encouraged to wear their neck rings in order to attract more tourists. For some women, the neck stretching is used to attract the attention of male suiters. Similarly, certain groups from African tribes use the neck rings to identify wealth, status and sometimes marriage. Despite what many people may believe, the coils that are worn around a woman's neck does not cause them to be immobile. They are not paralyzed by the coils. In fact many of these lovely ladies play "active" sports, such as volleyball. 

There is much more behind the tradition of neck coils, such as why they are worn and how they started. For example, neck coils in the past were used as a way to stop others from stealing valuables and also identified women and which tribe they were from.

Regardless of how a person perceives this unique form of beauty, different cultures embrace different ideas of beauty. The very thing that many of us may call bizarre is often the one thing that some cultures embrace as "beautiful."



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Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. —