Hirsutism is a condition in which women have excessive growth of terminal hair of the male type. There are several "bearded women" known to history – some of them appeared in cirques of freaks in the 19th and 20th centuries, some considered their "hairiness" a curse, and others-a chance to gain success and wealth.
The Catholic saint Vilgefortis is considered the patroness of girls who seek to get rid of annoying fans. According to legend, she was a young noblewoman who, trying to avoid an unwanted marriage, took a vow of virginity and prayed to become ugly. When she grew a beard, the wedding was canceled, but the girl's father was so angry that he ordered her to be crucified. In the Middle Ages, wives who wanted to get rid of abusive husbands prayed to Vilgefortis.
In 1631, the Duke of Alcala commissioned a painting depicting a bearded lady, whose name was allegedly Magdalena Ventura. The painting was executed by the artist Jose de Ribera. Little is known about Magdalena: when the painting was commissioned, the sons of the depicted woman were already adults, and she was 52 years old. In addition, it is known that the hair on her face began to grow at the age of 37.
Josephine Clofullia is a famous bearded woman of Swiss origin. When she was eight years old, her beard was five centimeters long. At the age of 14, she began touring with the freak show, and then, together with her son, husband and father, she moved to the United States, where she joined the Barnum American Museum. In 1853, there were rumors that Josephine was actually a man. She was examined by doctors – but they said that she was really a woman.
The facts about Julia's life vary in different sources-from her belonging to an Indian tribe to the fact that she was a “wolf girl” from a village in Mexico. She suffered from congenital hypertrichosis – her whole body was covered with black hair. In 1854, Julia moved to the United States, got married and began to actively perform in public – she sang, danced and communicated with the audience, impressing them with her intelligence and wit.
Pastrana toured in Europe and Russia, where she was greeted as a star. In addition, the woman had crowds of fans. During a tour in Moscow in 1859, Pastrana became pregnant. Her child, who looked like herself, lived only three days, and Julia herself died from postpartum complications.
The mother of "bearded" Jane Barnell sold her daughter to the circus of freaks when she was four years old. A year later, the girl was taken by her father, and moved to live with her grandmother. In 1892, she joined the John Robinson Circus, choosing the stage name Lady Olga Roderick. Lady Olga's personal life did not go well for a long time: she was married to a circus musician, and gave birth to two children, but her husband and children died a few years later. Her second husband was killed a few months after the marriage. She divorced her third alcoholic husband, and found happiness only with her fourth husband, who later became her manager.
Annie Jones is another famous bearded woman from America, a member of the Barnum Circus. She participated in Barnum's exhibitions from the age of nine months – in return, her parents received $ 150 a week. Later, Annie posed for many photographers, and became the best bearded lady in the country. Annie also actively tried to ban the use of the word “freaks” in shows and exhibitions.
The French bearded woman Clementine Dele was considered "the most famous bearded lady in France". Together with her husband, baker Paul Dele, she opened a cafe, which the locals dubbed the "Cafe of the bearded Woman". Clementine sold postcards and photos with her image, and even started touring at some point. In 1904, she received permission to wear men's clothing, when it was officially forbidden for women.
The bearded woman Krao Farini arrived in London in October 1882. Then she was accompanied by the anthropologist George Shelley and the researcher Karl Bock, and nothing is known about the woman's early life. In Europe, she was sheltered by the showman Guillermo Antonio Farini. Krao, suffering from hypertrichosis, was studied for several years and presented as a " missing link” and proof of Darwin's theory of evolution. For several decades, it was shown at exhibitions in Europe and America.
Alice Elizabeth Doherty was born in 1887 in Minneapolis, USA. After birth, the girl already had blonde hair five centimeters long all over her body. At the age of five, the length of the hair on the girl's body was 12 cm, and in adolescence – 22 cm. The girl almost did not participate in major exhibitions and circuses – her parents rented commercial premises and sold tickets so that people could see her. Doherty retired in 1915.