The fascinating and tragic story of Mary Ann Bevan

She is Mary Ann Bevan, known as the “ugliest woman in the world”, but when you know her story you will call her “the most beautiful person in the world”. Mary Ann suffered from acromegaly due to which she had abnormal growth and facial distortion. After her husband died, without a breadwinner in the house, accumulating debts and financial needs of her 4 children she decided to participate in the humiliating contest and won the offensive title of “world’s ugliest woman.”

In many ways, I’m happy with how far our society has come in 2022. Sure, certain things were better in the old days, but if we look just a few centuries back, there are aspects of everyday life that well and truly belong in the dustbin of history.

In the 19th century, ”freak shows” were one of the most popular attractions out there, and viewed as a normal staple of American culture.

In essence, they were traveling circuses displaying “odd” people – such as bearded ladies and Siamese twins.

One such “odd” person, Mary Ann Bevan, became known as the “Ugliest Woman in the World” – and her remarkable history and tragic fate show why we must never forget her…

Individuals of different ethnicities or with different physical abilities have always fascinated people – but putting them on public display and making money out of them is something that is wrong, no matter the time period we’re talking about.

Today, it’s just unacceptable to treat deformed people as objects of entertainment – but in the 19th century, crowds flocked to see them. From the 1840s to the 1940s, “freak shows” were at the peak of their popularity, and exploitation for profit wasn’t considered morally wrong.

Like everyone else

Therfore, it’s perhaps not so strange that the story of Mary Ann Bevan begins during this particular era in history. She was born Mary Ann Webster on the December 20, 1874, in Plaistow, East London, United Kingdom.

During this time, it was common for there to be veritable crowds of children in almost every working-class family. Mary Ann Webster was one of eight children, and was just like her siblings (six of them being brothers) while growing up.

When her brothers got older, they were sent off to work to provide for the family. But Mary Ann had other opportunities. After finishing her medical studies, the gorgeous brunette became a nurse in 1894. At this point in her life, her future looked promising.

She was a beautiful young woman with delicate features; she had a good education and lived in London. This city was economically prosperous and had become the center of the modern world.

Mary Ann also found love in 1902, when she married Thomas Bevan. The couple were very happy together, welcoming four children during their marriage. Sadly, though, the good times didn’t last forever. After 14 years together, Thomas passed away from a stroke. Mary Ann was devastated, not to mention left alone with her four children.

Unfortunately, other things were also plaguing her mind. An medical issue had started to affect her just after she married Thomas, and it only worsened as the years passed.

Around the age of 32, Mary Ann started showing signs of acromegaly. She must have been terrified when the first symptoms showed up, and sadly, it wasn’t easy to get help for the rare condition.

At that time, acromegaly was an unknown disease, and doctors had little knowledge about how to treat it. Acromegaly is a disorder where the body produces too much growth hormone, resulting in enlarged body tissue and bones. It’s a cruel condition, one that often makes the affected person’s hands and feet three times their usual size.

The disease usually appears after puberty, but in the case of Mary Ann Bevan, the disorder showed up later in life and affected her face. While battling the condition, her face rapidly became larger and more masculine.

Today, we know much more about the disease. For example, we know that it affects as many as six in 100,000 people. The condition can also be treated if it is detected in time. For people who are diagnosed with acromegaly today, for example, life expectancy is equal to that of the general population – providing they receive the proper treatment early on.

But such medical advances were sadly not something that Mary Ann Bevan would benefit from. Instead, she was massively impacted by the disease – both financially and psychologically.

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