Throughout generations and across the world, women have always been stereotyped by physical beauty. A woman is considered “feminine” only when she has the appearance traditionally associated with grace and beauty.

For any woman, to be considered “not feminine” is like being judged unattractive. Somehow buried under this pursuit of ideal beauty is the conventional attribute of motherhood.

This is not to say that mothers should abandon their feminine side; the traits of perfect women should be based not only on mere appearance but also on maternal characteristics.

The capabilities of being influential mothers must remain a deciding factor to determine whether or not a woman is feminine. 

Physical beauty and attractiveness are subjective matters, but not motherhood.

Mary Ann Bevan might not be the most physically attractive woman, and her appearance took a drastic change for the worse in her adult years due to acromegaly.

However, despite her ungainly appearance, her persistence and determination to be a good mother were worthy of high praise. The “ugliest woman in the world” withstood mockery and ridicule to give her children a better future.


10 /10 Whatever It Took To Feed The Family

A loving mother would do everything she could to ensure the well-being of her children. It is the distinctive characteristic of a feminine woman, more than facial beauty or ideal body shape.

Mary Ann Bevan was a prime example of this trait. In her adult years after her husband passed away, she developed abnormal physical growth, a condition now known as acromegaly.

With no husband, no job, and four kids to feed, Mary joined the circus world as a sideshow performer. She used her condition as an attraction people paid money to watch.

Wikimedia Commons

9 /10 Ugliest Woman In The World

Acromegaly is a neuroendocrine disorder that triggers excess growth hormones in the body—the condition results in abnormal enlargement of soft tissues, bone, and even internal organs.

Along with the growth, symptoms often include muscle pain and a terrible headache. Most cases of acromegaly are caused by a type of benign tumor of the pituitary gland.

Due to acromegaly in her later years, Mary weighed 76kg and stood 170cm; her shoes were size 11, and her gloves 25. She first claimed the title of the world’s ugliest woman through a strange contest held in 1914.

8 /10 A Former Nurse

Mary Ann was born in 1874 in London, England. For a time in her life, she worked as a nurse and married a greengrocer named Thomas Bevan. Until her early 30s, Mary was an ordinary person blessed with beauty.

Symptoms of acromegaly appeared just shortly after the marriage in 1903, and it grew worse over the years. Her facial structure, limbs, and torso gradually became more masculine.

There was no treatment for the condition back then. Even if there had been one, she wouldn’t have had the money to afford it.

American Philosophical Society

7 /10 Circus Material

Mary Ann answered ads published in a London newspaper, asking for the “ugliest woman.” The advert said good pay and long-term employment for the winner.

Participants had to send their most recent photographs to join the contest. Claude Bartram, an agent for Barnum and Bailey circus, was behind it.

Mary had her first photograph taken for the sole purpose of taking part in the contest.

She ended up winning and getting hired. She left for America in 1920. Being ridiculed was part of the job. She was sometimes beaten for how she looked.

Wikimedia Commons

6 /10 A Sensation In New York

Upon arriving in New York, almost every newspaper in the city ran a front-page story with such sensational headlines as “The Ugliest Woman on Earth” to the shock of readers.

As a sideshow performer, Mary Ann stayed in the United States for about two years. By the time she went back to England, she had already accumulated around £20,000 – an enormous amount worth more than 1.26 million pounds in today’s money.

After about six months of rest, during which she spent time with her kids, she traveled back to the United States to work for another year.

5 /10 Sideshow Performer Until Death

Some accounts suggest that Mary Ann worked as a sideshow performer with the Ringling Brothers Circus until death, while others say she took early retirement.

Either way, her children were in a boarding school, so things went pretty well for the kids. Apart from the children’s education, Mary made poor investment choices and drank excessively.

Soon enough, she was no longer a sensation she once had been in the circus world. On December 26, 1933, Mary Ann Bevan, the ugliest woman in the world, died at 59.

Public Domain

4 /10 A Patient Of Dr. Harvey Cushing

Several years before her death, Mary Ann could afford treatment and became a neurosurgeon patient of Harvey Cushing.

In response to a publication by Time Magazine about her, the doctor wrote a letter of complaint in 1927 to protest how the magazine made fun of her appearance.

Dr. Cushing said that Mary Ann – who had been previously a good-looking young woman – became a disease victim.

As a physician, he didn’t think it was suitable for time to be so frivolous over her unfortunate circumstances. In essence, the famous neurosurgeon said that time should have known better.

3 /10 Another Ridicule

The ridicule did not stop long after Mary Ann had passed. Hallmark Cards, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of greeting cards globally, distributed a birthday card that made fun of Mary Ann throughout the United Kingdom in the early 2000s.

The card showed a close-up photograph of her captioned with an inappropriate message about her appearance.

A Dutch doctor who saw the card in a shop complained that it was wrong to ridicule a woman who had acromegaly. The card would no longer be distributed following the doctor’s complaint.

Lester Balajadia /

2 /10 The Caption

As if the photograph was not enough to ridicule her, the caption was even worse.

There was a message referring to Blind Date, a British dating game show aired on ITV.

Contestants chose whom to date based on what the potential partners said in the front, and they could not see each other until the last moment.

The message on the card said something about a male contestant regretting the choice he made. Hallmark Cards agreed to stop making the cards, but the company refused to recall existing supplies already in the market.


1 /10 Horrified Doctor

The doctor who saw the photo was Wouter de Herder, an endocrinologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

He said seeing the photograph was a horrifying moment for him.

The communication manager for Hallmark Cards released a statement about an immediate withdrawal for the cards based on the realization that Mary Ann was ill rather than “simply being ugly.”

It was shameful to make money from the misfortune of others. In the circus world of the 1920s, at least Mary Ann earned cash by appearing in public.

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