Kayan Neck Stretching
The Kayan women of Myanmar (Burma) practice an especially extreme form of female body modification by wearing brass coils around their necks to make them appear more slender and elongated. In reality, the neck is not lengthened; the collarbone is deformed and pushed down by the coils, ultimately compressing the rib cage.
Girls begin to wear the coils at the age of five. After ten years, many of the women feel as though the coils are part of their bodies. When the coils are removed and replaced, the exposed neck is bruised and discolored.
The reasoning behind the strange practice is up for debate. Anthropologists suggest that the rings protected women from slavery by making them less attractive to competing tribes. Others believe the coils exaggerate the perceived ideal that women have longer and more slender necks than men.
Some theorize that the coils make the women look more like dragons, which are important figures in Kayan folklore. Today, women are given a choice of whether or not to wear the rings. Many still do in order to preserve their cultural identity.