In my time on earth and as an author and researcher, I’ve come across a lot of shocking things where women and beauty are concerned, throw in custom and tradition and things get weirder. I have seen cultures were heavily smoking women beg to be whipped severally to show their love for a man. I have even seen a tribe where women enlarge their lower lips to look more lovely to their men. I’ve come across one tribe in the Sahara Desert region where women hook several rings in their nose to look very beautiful. In my own tribe, the Igbo tribe of West Africa, the plump girls and women are regarded as the most beautiful and this custom is applicable to more than 80% of the tribes on the African continent. With black people, fat is beautiful, some tribes even have fattening rooms where women stay, eating endlessly to get very fat!
That being said. I was scanning through some articles just yesterday, doing some research for my new book and lo and behold, I came across this bizarre custom among the women of a certain Asian tribe that blew me right out the window! This one beats all yet!
The Padaung tribe, a subtribe of the Karenni people of Burma (Myanmar) are the culprits here. Among these people, the beauty of a woman actually lies in the length of her ornament studded neck! A visit to this tribe will leave you gapping with your eyes, ears, and mouth wide open! Due to their long necks, the women of this tribe move around like Ostriches or Giraffes, and this is why other people have given the women of the tribe the peculiar nickname – the Giraffe women.
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Strange Beauty Care Practices
Now here comes the interesting part.
women actually choose to look like Giraffes and Ostrich in order to prove their beauty to their men. Apparently, the theory here is that the Longer the woman’s neck, the more beautiful she is. Basically, these women go through hell to look beautiful!
The question that comes to mind here now is, how does having necks as long as that of Giraffe make you look beautiful? In Asia or parts of it actually, women with long necks are considered very beautiful. But, the people of this “giraffe” tribe in eastern Burma or as its now called, Myanmar, they take things several steps further.
These women are of the Padaung tribe, a subtribe of the Karenni tribe which in turn is a subtribe of the Karen tribe. “Padaung”, is the Shan language translates into “long neck”. The women place metal coils around their necks and these coils are of brass and gold alloy. By custom, these women begin to wear the coils as early as 5 years old, and with time and age, they add up more coils to the existing one on their necks to make the whole thing longer.
Imagine spending every day of your life, year after year, having a wide metal brace around your neck, pushing against your head and shoulders! What do you think, lovely ladies? Do you need this beauty care technique? Yuck, right?
With the women of the Padaung tribe, this particular beauty remedy is a basic necessity of life. Having a long neck is not just a symbol of beauty but also of wealth, and lofty position.
Many a myth abound behind this strange custom of beauty and beauty care. One has it that Padaung women wore the brass coils around their necks in the past to protect themselves from rampaging wild tigers which normally bite people’s necks first when they attack. Other myths claim that it made the women resemble the mythical dragons, and yet another myth has ti that theory of the long neck ritual was intended to make women look less attractive to slave hunters of the past, hence they are likely to be captured and taken off as slaves; this is the most plausible I must say because Bruma is close to Inda and China and in the days of slave trade China banned the importation of black slaves preferring slaves from other Asian Countries, .
Nonetheless, today’s Padaung women have not given up the practice of wearing the coils and so tend to have long necks, hence preserving the tradition of long ago. Clearly, their man see them as beautiful or else the tradition sure would have died out.
Another beauty remedy that has not died with time is blackening their teeth. The women paint their teeth pure black with deep staining pigments to look beautiful! Talk about top class beauty care products!
A major thing of note here is that long necks come at a price these women are obviously willing to pay. You see, as the coils get added, they actually push the women’s collarbones (shoulders) and ribs down. Technically, their necks are getting longer, but on the other hand, their shoulders and collarbones are being painfully compressed. In certain cases, the neck does not really get longer but the body gets shorter to make the neck long.
These women go through pain and hell to achieve the lofty standard of beauty required in their tribe. Poor woman! They can’t move their head as freely as you do so when its time to do thing like drink a cup of water, they make use of straws. According to one British journalist who interviewed a couple of the ‘giraffe’ women, their voices sound like they are speaking from the bottom of a well.
The things women will do to look beautiful! Stretching the neck is certainly one of the strangest and most bizarre beauty care remedies one can ever hope to see in life!