Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Necks of Thailand

What price would you pay to look beautiful? To be beautiful, always comes with a price. In the United States, it is something along the lines of $400 for a boxtox injections, or $5,000 for a tummy tuck. However, what if it was something you couldn't buy, in Thailand and parts of Burma women are obligated to wear brass ornaments known as neck rings, starting at the young age of five. Each year, a coil is added and it is said, that this is a technique to elongate their necks. Hence, (according to Thailand culture) making them more beautiful. The rings are only removed on rare instances, such as medical examinations.  Though, the women prefer to keep the rings on, because the uncoiling and re-coiling the rings is quite a process. Also, they have an incredible belief of representing and display their cultural heritage.
Anthropologists have been baffled for decades on how exactly a tradition like this started. One hypothesis is that the woman started wearing them to make themselves seem less attractive to other tribes, to protect themselves from slavery. Contrastingly, another hypothesis is that the coils originated from the desire to attract local men, by emphasizing feminine attributes, since women are suppose to have thinner necks than men. 

However, like I stated before, all beauty comes with a price. When examining the necks of the women, doctors have found that the coils do not actually elongate the necks. Instead, when the coils are added every year, it makes the ornament heavier, putting more pressure on the shoulders and collar bones, which gives the illusion of a long neck. Women from Thailand and Burma today are rejecting tradition, and taking their coils off when they reach adulthood. Nonetheless, necks that have been trapped underneath brass for ten year become frail and weak. Their collar bones and shoulders are eternally demented and deformed in unique ways modern doctors cannot fix. Those women must live with that deformity for the rest of their lives. I ask again, what price would you pay?  


  1. It seems crazy to be willing to go through something like that, but obviously for these women it's completely normal. It's interesting to consider the price of beauty. Most girls in America would never even consider subjecting our collar bones/shoulders to permanent deformity just to be attractive. However, so many girls will make themselves susceptible to cancer in tanning beds. We'll fry our hair in flat irons, we'll stretch our ears out with gages. Maybe it's not all that different.

  2. The risks associated with trying to fit into sociaties standards of what is considered attractive is ridiculous and I believe it occurs everywhere.

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  4. I love the topic of your blog! I find that commonly in the U.S. we tend to be egocentric and rarely take the time to find out about other countries. So investigating and learning of other cultures is a great idea. It is an eye-opener to realize that is not just here that individuals, specifically women take risks to fulfill the standard of beauty.