A loving mother would do anything for her children. Mary Ann Webster, known as Mary Ann Bevan after getting married, wasn’t the exception. Her only goal after her husband passed away was to take care of her children. Whatever it took…
And that’s what this story is about. Mary Ann Bevan wasn’t reluctant to turn into an object of derision if that’s what it took to save her children from hunger. In 1915, she was titled “the ugliest woman in the world”.
She was ridiculized, mocked, and insulted. People would travel miles to see the “world’s ugliest woman”, but what she did, she did it out of love. The bright side is that she became a kind of heroine back in her time. Want to know why? Keep reading…
Mary Ann Bevan was born on 20 December 1874 and died on 26 December 1933 in London, England. Her life was pretty common. She was one of eight siblings from a working-class family. She became a nurse due to her necessity to start working at an early age.
During her young adult ages, she was a very attractive woman. In 1903 she married Thomas Bevan with whom she had four children. But after Thomas Bevan suddenly passed away in 1914, things started to get complicated for the Bevan family.
Before Thomas died, Mary Ann started experiencing headaches accompanied by muscle and joint pain. Back then, doctors didn’t know how to help her. They didn’t know what was going on.
Soon, she started experiencing a new symptom: her face started suffering a strange development. It started to bend, taking away her “normal” appearance. “The transformation”, as the doctors in the day decided to call it, turned Mary Ann into a creature who only slightly resembled a woman.
Looking At The Glass Half Full?
Mary Ann was suffering from acromegaly, a neuroendocrine disorder that enlarges the bones, internal organs, and ultimately the body due to excess growth hormone. This disease is frequently accompanied by migraines and muscle pain. Acromegaly occurs due to a benign tumor, known as a pituitary adenoma.
After her appearance changed and becoming a widow, Mary Ann accepted any job offer. Her only objective was to take care of her children. However, no job was offered to her due to her “ugly” look. She was desperate, with no money and four children to feed.
And this is when it happened. Mary Ann decided to participate in The World’s Ugliest Woman Contest as the prize was a big sum of money. She won the contest. But insults in the streets increased. People would insult and mock her every time she decided to leave the house.
Despite the situation being very unpleasant, she decided to take one step forward. She accepted an invitation from the Coney’s Island Dreamland Show to join them as their sideshow circuit. In 1920, she took part in the circus and freak performances.
She worked alongside dwarfs, Siamese twins, a bearded woman, and other “freaks”. They would make people laugh by looking at their unusual features. It was a matter of time until Mary Ann became the most popular “attraction”.
She spent the rest of her life in the circus bearing all kinds of cruelties, but she overcame everything in the name of her children. She died in 1933, at the age of 59.
Her story is one brave story of how Mary Ann turned her disease into a chance of sustaining her family. Sometimes the challenges can be keys that open opportunities… At least that’s the way I prefer to see it. Let this be a lesson for all of us that appearances don’t matter.
By the way, as for today, doctors can successfully cure acromegaly.