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November 16, 2022

The Story of Mary Ann Bevan, the Ugliest Woman in the World

Mary Ann Bevan (née Webster; December 20, 1874 – December 26, 1933) was an English woman, who after developing acromegaly, toured the sideshow circuit as “the ugliest woman in the world.” She was one of eight children born into a working-class family in Plaistow, East London. She later became a nurse. In 1902, she married Thomas Bevan with whom she had four children. Thomas Bevan died suddenly in 1914.

Mary Ann Bevan before and after the disease.

After the death of her spouse, she faced many problems like no job, food, etc. but she kept herself motivated to uplift the morale of the family. But destiny wanted something else, her body started deteriorating, her facial expression started changing in an inappropriate manner. She was turning more masculine day by day. Her entire body changed with large limbs and a big torso, which turned her looking like a ‘homely’ appearance.

She was adjacent with the rare disease named “Acromegaly.” Acromegaly is a neuroendocrine disorder, that results in an excess amount of hormones in the human body. It is usually caused by a non-cancerous tumor, adults of middle age are mostly affected by this. In the 21st century, it can be cured but it was not possible in the 20th century. That is one of the reasons doctor’s got no clue about Mary’s disease.

Mary Ann Bevan looked for many jobs that would pay her enough to sustain the family. But wherever she went for a job interview, she got rejected and get mocked by using uncivilized words such as “freak” and “ugly.” The going was getting tough for her with every day passing. She had a responsibility to feed and care for her children and every day was a challenge for her.

Then one day she find a contest titled “The Ugliest Woman,” the contrary to her dreams to look beautiful she took participation in it. Luckily, she won the title and received a large sum of money to feed her children and support her family for a while. But that was not enough to run a family for a lifetime.

She knows that a one-time prize would not be going to be enough for her family’s survival. So, she started joining circus shows to have a stable path of earning. She joined Coney Island’s Dreamland Show where she found many people of different characters and she was one of them. The circus displays the people labeled as freaks, for instance, Bearded women, Siamese twins, Giant men, Dwarfs, and so on weird terms used for a human being.

She slowly became a matter of entertainment for people, they started making jokes about her. Gradually, she became popular and started appearing on postcards and greeting cards as a joke. It’s obvious that no one would ever like to be a matter of joke of his/her appearance. But that was the only way she could feed her family.

There was a huge demand for Mary’s after she started in the circus. As a result, she barely returned to Europe, she once returned to Paris in 1925 to take part in an exhibition. Mary’s life was changed and she can now give a better life to her children. She worked for many years in the circus to entertain the audience but from inside she was dying every day by the disease.

We know her as the “Ugliest Woman in the world” but she was the proud mother who cared for her family despite mockery and becoming a matter of fun. A mother is the biggest form of a human being, and Mary was the golden example for it.

After the “successful” or a “matter of laugh” in the circus, Mary’s health was deteriorating as she suffered from acromegaly disease. A few days after, the disease snatched her life at the age of 59 in 1933. As per her mother’s wish, her children buried her at Brockley Cemetry in England.

(via Aspiring Blog)

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