Freak shows have a mixed history of benefit and detriment to the human exhibits who were their performers and stars. While some performers used their physical differences to attain a freedom and financial independence that they would not otherwise have achieved, for every person who benefited from their exhibition, there was another who was exploited. Some freak show performers were no better than slaves; they were bought and sold, making only their “owners” rich and free. Often, women were kept captive by their managers, who married them for control and were no better than their wives’ pimps.
In modern times, there has been a reclamation of the term “freak,” and freak show performers are working for themselves, helped out by Internet visibility and global access to their faces and stories. Bearded ladies can now be women who subvert gender stereotypes, make their own money, and perform or exhibit on their terms. Bearded sisters are, to be quite clear, doing it for themselves.
The future of the freak show is glittering, consensual, and disarming, and right now, there is nothing hotter than a beautiful bearded lady. So step right up and see ten bearded ladies who redefined beauty, from the 1500s to the present day.
10. Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miler is a contemporary, out-and-proud bearded lady who has embraced the “freak show” part of her life by taking control of her own performance in her own circus.
Uncomfortable with the idea of shaving her face, Jennifer moved away from mainstream society and has spent her life embracing herself as a bearded woman, redefining her own definition of beauty with feminism and a dash of humor. Jennifer is the owner of Circus Amok. She is a creative force to be reckoned with as a writer, playwright, performer, and activist.