How do you suppose a woman manages to use the bathroom, despite her 35-inch-nails? And did another woman have surgery to end up with the world's smallest waist? ABC News sat down with these two Guinness World Record holders, Lee Redmond and Cathie Jung, to find out what life is really like for each of them. Check out their interesting statistics, and read their candid answers, below.
Guinness World Record: World's longest fingernails on a female
Age: 66 years old
Astrological sign: Aquarius, the sign of the "unusual"
Dimensions: 5 feet 1 inch, 97 pounds, 35-inch-long nails on each finger
Home state: Utah
Family: Mother of three, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Years Spent Working on Her Guinness World Record: Last cut her nails in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was president
Career: Former beautician who still colors her own hair
First time in the Guinness World Records: 2002
Frequently asked questions:
Why do you have such long nails?
"I just kept letting 'em grow and kept setting dates to cut 'em, and I never could cut 'em. I don't know. They had just become part of me. I even went to psychologists [and] psychiatrists, trying to understand why. Why can't I cut 'em? And you think, 'Golly, just cut 'em and be normal.' But you know, what is normal, you know? Who can define what normal is? They come out of my body. It's the same thing as yours. The only thing your nail and hair is made of is protein.
"My thinking is, maybe this is the only thing that I really am in control of. I've been controlled by people my whole life. And so, maybe this is the only thing that I totally am in control of."
How did you make it into the Guinness World Record Book?
"My sister-in-law called Guinness when [my nails] were about five inches. And they put 'em in the files, because that was nothing back then. They checked back with me in early 2000, and I was ready to have the official measurement. They came out to the house and measured each nail and made sure they were really mine, and I set the record back then when they were about 25 inches of nails.
"Everybody dreams of either inventing or doing something, you know? Nobody wants to be a nobody. It's like, 'What could I do? What could I do?' I meet so many people doing the same thing. Well, I want to get in the Guinness book.
"One day, I just stopped cutting them, and then they became a ticket to see the world, because I started flying out all over the world for television, and I have met a lot of very, very unique people in the world."
What are people's reactions when they see your nails?
"Well, since day one, it has always been a positive reaction. When they were just 3.5 inches long, a TV producer's wife saw them in a local mall, and I was on TV. When they were 9 inches long, the National Enquirer put me in their magazine. People's eyes always go big. I'm on the marquee in Times Square. I've been flown all over the world ... It's just been a great ride with these nails, and I always joke, 'can you imagine the casket they'll have to get to put me in?'"
Have you ever broken a nail?
"Oh, yes. Thankfully, it's just been on the top. One time, I was walking the red carpet at the opening of the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in New York City, and I tripped, and the top cracked. I have to be very careful. Especially during the cold months."
"When I'm ready to have them removed, I'll need to have them lasered off."
How quickly do your nails grow?
"They grow about an inch-and-a-half a year."
How do you go to the bathroom?
"That's the question everyone wants to know. I usually tell them, 'Very carefully.' The truth is, where there's a will, there's a way.
"I can use a cell phone. I use a kitchen tool to get my mail out of the mail box. I use a spoon if I want to open a soda can. I can do almost anything, and I am able to figure out ways to do anything I want to do."
How do you sleep?
"I sleep with my nails hanging off the ends of the bed. Luckily, I don't roll over on them.
"Your nails lay straight and are not curved around like previous record holders. They used to be more of a C shape, but gravity has pulled them straighter. I carefully manicure them all the time. I soak them and file them. It's like meditation for me. I've never had a manicure.
"I always knew if they started to get all twisted and gnarly, they would have to go."
What happened to the famous man from India who had the longest nails record before you?
"The man from India cut his off, and it was so traumatic to him that they had to glue his back on. And he only had 'em on the left hand."
Do you ever wake up and say, "I wish I didn't have these things?"
"Every day! I admit they make things more of a challenge, and although they have brought me a lot of great things, they are also a pain to have. I have set a date of November 22nd to cut them off, but I tricked myself by not saying which year. One of these days I'll just cut them off and go on with my life."
What is the best part of having the nails?
"One of my greatest things that I have done with them is, I go around to the junior high school and talk on self-esteem. I go to self-esteem classes and tell the kids, 'It's OK to be different, as long as you are not hurting anyone.' And because, heaven knows, you know ... they need self-esteem.
"We're all unique. Every one of us. You know, we all have some type of a talent. I'm a very giving, caring, loving person, you know? And, especially to teenagers and young children. I am always saying, you know, 'Don't judge me by just my fingernails. There is more to me than my fingernails.'"
When will you cut them?
"Well, they've been growing for 28 years, and I know that I'm going to just cut them off one day. I know that it's gonna be — one day they're just gonna be gone, the same way that I grew 'em."
Guinness World Record: World's smallest waist on a living person
Age: 70 years old
Height: 5 feet 6 inches, 140 pounds
Waist: 15 inches (21 inches without corset)
Home state: North Carolina
Family: Mother of three, married to Bob, an orthopedic surgeon
Education: Tufts University — Major: Biology
Years Spent Working on Her Guinness World Record: 26 years
First time in the Guinness World Records:2002
Last Record Holder: Ethel Granger was a small woman, recruited because of her size. Her domineering husband forced her to corset to the waist size of 15 inches. She has since passed away.
Frequently asked questions:
How did you first appear in the book?
"[My husband and I] always had an affection for Victorian costuming. We received a lot of positive press about dressing up in the elegant formal wear and attending parties. We attended the annual LGM Ball (Les Gracieuses Modernes) and the Guinness record book contacted me. I never had the goal of appearing in the record book.
"At first, I was hesitant, because I didn't want to be a part of a freak show, but the current editor has done a lot to add class to the book, and I know it's used a lot to teach children, so I agreed to appear, and it's allowed me the opportunity to travel and meet all sorts of wonderful people."
What is a corset?
"I think everyone can relate to 'Gone With the Wind,' and seeing Scarlett tied to the bedpost, or holding onto the bedpost and having her waist pulled in after she had her baby, and that's basically what the corset looks like. It's the basic underwear that people wore in Victorian times. And it cinched in your waist and made them look Victorian in figure, what we consider a Victorian figure."
How often do you wear a corset?
"I wear my corset all day except for taking a shower. I find it more comfortable to be in a corset than not. I use powder under the corset for comfort, but it doesn't hurt and it feels great."
Have you had surgery?
"I've never had surgery to have a rib removed. I have never had any ill medical effects from corseting. My posture is improved from wearing the corset. The lower ribs are called the floating ribs, and they are very flexible, so everything just moves around like it would during a pregnancy."
Why start corseting?
I've always admired the hourglass shape the corset provided during the Victorian days. After I delivered my third child and entered my 40s, I started to feel a little dumpy and frumpy, so in 1983, I started wearing a corset, virtually full time, 24/7.
Is corseting for everyone?
"I think that, in order to be comfortable wearing a corset, there are two things that are involved, or play a part. One, is that the corset be custom-made for you. In order for it to be comfortable, it needs to be custom-made ... by someone who is knowledgeable, obviously. The other thing is not to try to reduce your waist to any great extreme, initially. If you're going to be successful, you have to do it very gradually. In order to decrease the waist size, you have to do it very gradually.
"So, when you can wear one corset — one size corset comfortably closed — then the next size you have made, you might have made only an inch, or maybe two inches smaller, at the most. And then, you don't get anything smaller than that until you can comfortably wear that closed.
"So, it's an ongoing process. I've been at the size I am now for probably, oh, 15 years. But it took me a good 10 years to get down. So, it is a slow and ongoing procedure.
"I don't think anyone, man or woman, can pay too much attention to how they look and, hopefully, that they keep themselves in a healthy situation, so that they're able to function nicely, and also look well.
"It takes a reasonable amount of discipline, and ... I think that there has to be a desire there. If you don't have the desire, then obviously, you're not gonna be successful. So, it has to be someone who's willing to be a little bit unique."
What is your diet like?
"When people first meet me, the two things they will ask me is, 'does it hurt?' That's probably number one. And the second thing would be, 'can you eat?' And of course, very often I'm out in a local restaurant or somewhere, so people do see that I eat very normally, and I don't have any problem doing that.
"Over the course of a day, I'll eat as much as anyone else does [who is] my size or weight. I have no problem maintaining my weight. And I may break that up into four or five smaller amounts at one time, which is probably a healthier way to eat."
What can't you do?
"I can live a normal life. I can do anything I want to do. I fish, I do my housework, I take care of the dog, even do some minimal exercising — I'm on the treadmill or something like that."
Has being a record holder been a good experience?
"It's kind of interesting and fun to be in the record book. We've gotten to meet a lot of interesting people all around the world. We've been to England, China, Japan, Germany, and all over the U.S."
Do you have any regrets?
"I think that having a small waist and the Victorian image of a figure is very positive. Obviously, the fact that my husband really enjoys it is also a positive experience for me, too.
"The thing that I would like to convey more than anything is that, basically, I'm just your everyday average person, a normal person who does normal things like everyone else does, and wearing a corset is just a part of me, and it's not something I consider as being the only thing that I'm noted for. I have no regrets about starting corseting, or continuing it."
Do you have any future plans to get smaller?
"I have no plans to get any smaller than I am now. It would be an expensive proposition. New corsets are not inexpensive, and also, all the clothes that I have, fit me as I am."
Compiled by Eric M. Strauss