Sunday, 23 October 2016
An indigenous woman who toured Europe as “the world’s ugliest woman” was recently buried in her home nation Mexico - an incredible one-hundred and fifty years after she died.
Throughout her life, Julie Pastrana struggled with a genetic condition that deformed her looks and landed her circus work as a freak of nature.
When she died in 1860, her husband continued to tour with her embalmed body.
Born in 1834, Julie Pastrana’s face was covered with hair.
She also had a jutting jaw, and was mocked for begin an “ape woman” and a “bear woman.”
“Imagine the aggression and cruelty of humankind she had to face, and how she overcame it. It’s a very dignified story,” commented Sinaloa Governor Mario Lopez.
In 1850, Julie married an American impresario named Theodore Lent, who got her jobs in freak shows, in which she would dance and sing for audiences.
She died just a years later, not long after giving birth to a son who inherited her condition, and who survived just a few days.
Despite her death, Lent refused to give up on the income her looks were bringing in and he toured with both his wife and his son’s dead, embalmed bodies.
The gruesome tale didn’t end there. During a stay in Norway, the corpses were stolen and dumped.
The police recovered them and they were placed in storage at University of Oslo.
It was in 2005 when Julia Pastrana’s story came to the attention of Mexican artist Laura Anderson Barbata, who began a campaign to bring Julia’s remains home.
“I felt she deserved the right to regain her dignity and her place in history, and in the world’s memory.”
Crowds gathered to witness Julia Pastrana’s homecoming. “A human being should not be the object of anyone,” said Father Jaime Reyes Retana in an address to mourners.
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