After Being Diagnosed With A Rare Disorder, She Worked As An “Ugly Woman” And Earned $1.6 Million To Support Her Children

kirkikis - - illustrative purposes only

In the late 19th century, a girl named Mary Ann Bevan was born into a large family on the outskirts of London. As she grew up, she was no different from her seven siblings and was even considered an attractive young woman. That all changed when she reached adulthood.

Mary Ann Bevan had been on the path to a happy, fulfilling life. She became a nurse in 1894 and married a farmer named Thomas Bevan in 1903. They had four healthy children together—two sons and two daughters.

Sadly, Thomas died in 1914, and his sudden death left Mary Ann with four kids to support on her own.

Shortly after her husband’s death, she began showing signs of acromegaly, a rare disorder where the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone, resulting in facial deformities, abnormally large hands and feet, and a wide range of other symptoms.

Acromegaly can also cause sleep apnea, impaired vision, and an increased risk of kidney disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Acromegaly is typically diagnosed in adults aged 30 to 50. Nowadays, it can be treated, but in the early 20th century, medicine was not advanced enough. Soon, Mary Ann’s features changed beyond recognition.

Her jaw protruded outward, her nose bulged, and her hands and feet swelled up. Her appearance made it a challenge to find proper work, as no one wanted to hire a woman looking the way that she did.

As a last resort, she entered a “Homeliest Woman” contest and beat out 250 competitors to win the title and cash prize. She captured the attention of sideshow owners and managed to get steady work in a traveling fair.

In 1920, she answered an advertisement placed in the newspaper by a British agent for Barnum and Bailey’s circus, calling for an ugly woman. She mailed in a photo of herself and was promptly hired by the famous showman, Samuel W. Gumpertz. Mary Ann appeared in Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park, where crowds came to gawk at her size 11 feet and size 25 hands.

kirkikis – – illustrative purposes only

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