A loving mother is ready for anything for her children. Mary Ann Webster (married – Bevan) is one of them: she was not afraid to become an object of ridicule, putting her atypical appearance on public display. She had a goal: to feed the children at all costs. Mary had to go through the insults, humiliation and eccentricities of the audience who wanted to gaze at the “ugliest woman in the world.”
A difficult fate and dreams of female happiness
The fate of Mary at first was unremarkable. She was born in London in a large and poor family. She had to start working early – she worked as a nurse in a hospital. At that time, Mary was an attractive girl, dreaming of a big family. And this happened: at 29, she married Thomas Bevan, from whom she subsequently gave birth to 4 children.
Soon, Mary began to have health problems: migraines worsened, pains in muscles and joints appeared. Doctors could not really understand what was happening with her body. The family required attention and care, so the woman was not up to herself, and she spun like a squirrel in a wheel.
Sudden onset of disease
Symptoms manifested themselves more and more: the skull lengthened, facial features became large, the hands became rude, and female forms gradually began to disappear. And from a pretty young woman, Mrs. Bevan turned into something remotely resembling her.
The disease that Mary has overtaken is called acromegaly, a neuroendocrine disease associated with excessive production of growth hormone. Its excess leads to excessively high growth, an increase in bones, internal organs and soft tissues, accompanied by headaches, muscle pains. Acromegaly usually occurs due to a benign pituitary tumor. In most cases identified, the disease is hereditary.
Today, doctors are successfully struggling with this ailment using various methods of treatment. But at the very beginning of the twentieth century, Mary Ann had no chance of recovery. Every day a woman watched her beauty slip away.
Doubtful title and first cash prize
To Mr. Bevan’s honor, he supported his wife in grief that fell on her and did not even think about leaving her, but fate had his own plans for this. After 11 years of marriage, Mrs. Bevan was widowed and left alone with 4 children with virtually no livelihood.
After the death of her husband, Mary took up any work to feed her children. She was not hired for a good job because of her repulsive appearance. People on the street reacted ambiguously to a woman: they insulted, laughed, and scornfully looked at them. Each exit to the street was a test.
The financial situation of the family only worsened, and then Mary found out that in England there is a competition for the title of “the ugliest woman”. And she decided on a desperate step – to take part in it. The main prize was a substantial amount of money. She managed to win this contest, but derogatory articles began to appear in the press, one after another, which was not easy to read.
Mary managed to do the impossible for those times – to turn her misfortune into stable earnings, albeit difficult emotionally. By the way, a similar competition is now being held in England, only the emphasis is on grimaces.
Circus and freak show
In 1920, the woman received an offer to work in the USA in the circus and amusement park “Dreamland” on Coney Island. She participated in performances where her atypical appearance was exhibited. Mary had to perform in colorful dresses to further emphasize her unattractiveness and masculinity.
In addition to her, other people with special looks participated in the show: a woman with a beard, dwarfs, giants, Siamese twins – all of them were peculiar freaks that were exhibited for the amusement of the audience.
At that time, the public liked such cruel amusements, and Mrs. Bevan was one of the most popular artists in the troupe. Who knows what strength it cost her, because until recently she was a pretty woman, and now she has become the object of ridicule and humiliation. But she overcame all these difficulties only for the sake of her children.
A family photo has survived, in which Mary and her children
Еhe eldest son in a sailor suit, the youngest in a suit and daughter in modest dresses. In those days, studio photo shoots were rare, some of them had only a few in a lifetime. Perhaps this fact indicates that Mary was primarily a loving, touching and caring mother, rather than a circus artist in a freak show.
Until the end of her days, Mary Bevan worked in an American circus. During her lifetime, she happened to return to Europe only once: in 1925 Mary visited Paris, where she was invited to speak at the World Exhibition.
Unfortunately, patients with acromegaly rarely live to old age. Mary died in 1933 at the age of 59, bequeathing to her children to be buried in her native land, in England. The difficult fate of a loving mother who did not break under the yoke of the title of “the ugliest woman in the world” once again proves that a walking, courageous, desperate one will overcome the road.
Of course, we can say that she had no choice, and this was the only chance. But she took this opportunity, was not afraid to take a chance and make her illness a source of income, providing herself and her children. Who knows what the fate of Mary would have been if she hadn’t had this illness and such fortitude. Most likely, we would not know anything about this woman.