The other day I was surfing the Guinness World Records website at work. (Trust me, I was doing actual work.) Scrolling through it, I stumbled across an odd but useful list for aspiring record-breakers: A catalogue of feats for which Guinness will not award records. After all, just because they recognize "Hairiest Teenager" and "Heaviest Weight Lifted by Nipples" doesn't mean they don't have standards. A few items from the list of records Guinness says you'll never see, organized by category:
– Records based on the killing or harming of animals.
– We do not endorse speed records for travelling over large distances on horseback, because of concerns over the welfare of the animals involved.
– Endurance records, such as 'longest time living with snakes'.
– We do not accept any claims for beauty as it is not objectively measurable.
– Cancer survival – due to the varying types of cancer and degrees of severity they are found at, it is not possible to compare fairly between each individual case.
– We do not accept claims for elbow licking.
– Due to the medical condition elephantiasis, we do not monitor a category for largest head.
– We no longer accept public claims for hunger strikes or fasting.
– Massage marathons – we cannot visually judge style and form as to be correctly done for a long time.
– With all handwriting related claims, we cannot possibly standardise levels of legibility, neatness etc, therefore we cannot accept claims for smallest handwriting.
– We do not accept claims for silent reading.
– We accept cramming records only for small iconic vehicles such as the VW Beetle and the Mini.
Lisa Pollak is a producer at This American Life. In her previous life as a newspaper reporter, she wrote about a 51-year-old Virginia woman chasing the record for long-distance tap dancing, a victorious effort that ended after nine hours (20 miles) of heel-toe, skips, and shuffles.