There is no one acceptable definition of physical beauty as it is a common saying that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. For women in most developed nations of the world, the quest to be seen as beautiful has gone from merely applying the best cosmetic brands to going under the knife in order to reconfigure their body parts to achieve a desired shape or size.
However, the story is very different for the Kayan women of eastern Burma, Kayah state, who are known for their long necks.
The Kayan women ‘stretch’ their necks with brass rings as an elongated neck is a sign of beauty in Kayan culture and have been nicknamed ‘giraffe’ women as a result.
While the brass coils make the women’s necks appear long, in reality the weight of the rings pushes down the muscles around the collarbone and compresses the rib cage – meaning their necks appear longer than they are.
Kayah state was opened to tourists in 2014 having been closed to outsiders ever since. This provided an opportunity for Dmytro Gilitukha, a photographer from Ukraine, to take series of remarkable shots of an up-close look at the daily lives of the Kayan women.
The 28-year-old photographer said:
“Women of the tribe wear a coil of brass rings around their necks from early age. The neck rings are very heavy which is why collarbones and ribs goes down and starts deformation.
“It gives an optical illusion of an elongated neck. Some people think that without the rings, the neck would break but this is not true. We saw one woman who had removed her rings and she feels good. After three weeks the neck returns to its normal condition.
“There are several theories why women wear the neck rings. The main reason is to differentiate themselves from other minorities. It is also their vision of beauty and social ranking.
“And our guide said it’s possible that in the past neck rings had a protective role from wild tigers in the mountain territory. Women remained at home while men went hunting in the forest and sometimes wild animals would come to the village and attack people.
“So if a tiger bites a woman’s or child’s neck they can survive. Nowadays no one remembers real reason but people still follow the tradition in some villages.
“It’s an amazing thing to see because it is so rare for a tribe to hold onto their traditions. Most places have incorporated modern beauty standards but not the Kayan women.
“As a European man, it is an incredibly unusual sight to behold but beautiful in its own right because it is so fascinating exploring another culture. As hard as you try, a camera can only ever partially capture that wonder.”
Woow! it’s really different strokes for different folks. What do you think?