Hirsutism: famous”bearded women” in history

The disorder known as hirsutism causes women to develop an abnormally large amount of terminal hair in a male pattern. Women’s beard growth can be caused by an h0rmonal imbalance (typically an excess of androgen) or by a rare genetic ailment known as hypertrichosis. Both of these conditions can be inherited. A woman’s ability to grow a beard may be passed down through her family, even when nothing is physically wrong with the woman.

There have been many “bearded women” throughout the course of history; some of them participated in freak shows throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, while others viewed their “hairiness” as a blessing or an opportunity to become successful and wealthy.

Wilgefortis

Wilgefortis
Wilgefortis -©Q Spirit

Wilgefortis is a legendary female folk saint who Catholics adore. Her legend originated in the 14th century, and the characteristic that sets her apart from other saints is that she has a full beard.

Wilgefortis’ father betrothed her to a Muslim ruler. She took a chastity pledge and hoped to be unpleasant to stop the wedding. She prayed for a beard, which ended the engagement. Wilgefortis’ father crucified her in anger.

She was never officially canonized by the church, but she is revered by those seeking relief from tribulations. In particular, she is revered by women who hope to be released from abusive husbands.

St Wilgefortis was popular in the North of England until the end of the Gothic period. There is a depiction of Wilgefortis standing with a cross and a long beard in Westminster Abbey’s Henry VII Chapel. She appears in a similar stance on Hans Memling’s triptych door. Her tale was discredited in the late 16th century (after being prominent in the 15th and 16th centuries), and she disappeared from high art but lingered into the 20th century in popular forms.

Helena Antonia

Helena Antonia
Helena Antonia – ©Wikipedia

Helena Antonia was a bearded female court dwarf who served Constance of Austria, Queen of Poland, Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain, and Maria of Austria, Holy Roman Empress. She was also a favourite of Margaret of Austria, Queen of Spain, and a lady-in-waiting to Maria of Austria, Holy Roman Empress. Her place of birth was in Liège.

Julia Pastrana

Julia Pastrana
Julia Pastrana

Performer and vocalist Julia Pastrana, who lived in the 19th century and had hypertrichosis, was affected by the condition. In 1834, Pastrana, an indigenous woman originally from Mexico, was born. Her face and body were completely covered in straight black hair at birth due to a hereditary disorder known as hypertrichosis terminalis (or generalized hypertrichosis lanuginosa).

Her earlobes and nose were abnormally big proportions, and her teeth were crooked. The latter abnormality was brought on by gingival hyperplasia, a rare disease that went untreated during her lifetime. This disease led her lips and gums to get thicker.

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller – ©Seven Days

Jennifer Miller is a well-known circus performer, author, and educator in the United States. She currently works at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The majority of her life has been spent with a beard on her face. She can juggle while also eating fire. Miller is a New York City resident.

Josephine Clofullia

Josephine Clofullia
Josephine Clofullia

Josephine Clofullia is a well-known woman who is bearded and hails from Switzerland. Her beard had grown to a length of 5 cm by the time she was eight years old. She started performing in freak shows when she was just 14 years old, and after moving to the United States with her son, husband, and father, she eventually became a part of the Barnum American Museum. In 1853, there were whispers that Josephine was actually a man in disguise. Medical professionals checked her out, and they concluded that she was, in fact, a female.

Krao Farini

Krao Farini
Krao Farini

Krao Farini was an American sideshow performer born with hypertrichosis and took part in exhibition tours in the 19th century across North America and Europe. Krao Farini was born in the United States. She was given a name that exploited her appearance after being adopted by William Leonard Hunt, who was also known as Guillermo Antonio Farini. Throughout her whole existence, she was misrepresented as an ancient human and presented as the link that had been previously missing between humans and apes.

Annie Jones

Annie Jones
Annie Jones – ©ResearchGate

Annie Jones was a bearded American woman born in the state of Virginia. She was an attraction in the circus that P. T. Barnum took on the road. It is unknown if hirsutism or an unrelated hereditary disorder that affects children of both sexes and continues into adulthood was the source of her problem; both conditions have the same symptoms.

During her lifetime, she was the subject of portraits by many photographers, notably Mathew Brady, whose work was extensively distributed. As an adult, Jones rose to fame as the country’s most prominent “bearded lady” and served as a spokesperson for Barnum’s “Freaks,” a term she worked tirelessly to remove from the industry. Jones wed Richard Elliot in 1881, but they separated in 1895 so she could marry her childhood sweetheart, William Donovan. Sadly, Donovan passed away, and Jones was left a widow. Jones passed away in Brooklyn in 1902 from complications related to TB.

Alice Elizabeth Doherty

Alice Elizabeth Doherty
Alice Elizabeth Doherty

1887 marked the year of Alice Elizabeth Doherty’s birth in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. The girl had light-colored hair that was around five centimeters long all over her body when she was born. The girl’s body hair was 12 centimetres long when she was five years old, but it grew to be 22 centimeters long by the time she was an adolescent.

The young lady didn’t take part in huge exhibitions or circuses very often; instead, her parents hired out a commercial space and sold tickets so that people might watch her perform. In 1915, Doherty took her retirement.

Jane Barnell

Jane Barnell
Jane Barnell

When Jane Barnell was only four years old, her mother, who went by the stage name “bearded,” sold her daughter to a freak circus. After a year had passed, the girl’s father took her under his care and relocated her to live with her grandma. In the year 1892, she became a performer in John Robinson’s circus, taking the stage name Lady Olga Roderick. Lady Olga’s private life was plagued by tragedy for a significant portion of her life.

She was married to a circus musician and had two children with him, but both her husband and her children perished a few years after their birth. A few short months after their marriage, her second husband was brutally murdered. She divorced her third alcoholic spouse and found happiness only with her fourth, who became her manager later in life.

Clementine Delait

Clementine Delait
Clementine Delait

Clementine Delait shaved regularly, according to later sources. In 1900, she spotted a bearded woman with unattractive stubble and boasted she could grow a nicer beard. Her husband backed her with a bet of 500 francs. The bet brought more clients to the Delaits’ café, so they renamed it “The Bearded Woman.”

Delait became a celebrity by selling photos and postcards. Paris and London were her first stops on her European tour. Her travels grew more intense after she became a widow in 1926.

In 1904, she got special authorization from the authorities to dress as a man at will when it was prohibited for women to do so.

She took care of her beard, according to reports.

Note* Always consult your doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about your health or condition. Never disregard a health care professional’s advice or delay getting it because of what you read on this website.

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