Bearded ladies have long been the object of fascination. In the 19th century, at a time when medical writers were arguing that a beard has positive health benefits for men, bearded women were displayed in circuses and freak shows. The image gained its power to shock from the sheer normality of the female figure – apart from the full beard. The bearded lady has her travelling bag, her source of income as well as an image of her greater freedom.

One thing still lacking to the new woman . . . is a beard. But this, she may hope to have in the course of some hundreds of years. Many women have beards already. Some take pride in them, and utilize them as a source of income; others keep them in check by the use of depilatories, tweezers, razors, or the costly commitment of electrolysis. To-date, real women with beards remain fascinating, but continue to be a threat to the order of society.

Wilgefortis is a female saint whose legend arose in the 14th century, and whose distinguishing feature is a large beard. She was revered by people seeking relief from tribulations, in particular by women who wished to be liberated from their abusive husbands.

Julia Pastrana was one of history's most famous bearded ladies. In the 19th century, she fascinated spectators as part of a traveling circus, dancing and singing in clothes that showed off her hairy visage and limbs. In 1857, The Lancet documented Pastrana as a "peculiarity," but modern medicine shows that she suffered from a real disorder known as congenital generalized hypertrichosis terminalis (CGHT), sometimes called "werewolf syndrome”.

Born in Virginia, Annie Jones was an American bearded woman. She toured with showman P. T. Barnum as a circus attraction. Many photographers took her portraits during her lifetime, which were widely distributed. As an adult, Jones became the country's top "bearded lady" and acted as a spokesperson for Barnum's "Freaks", a word she tried to abolish from the business. Jones married, but divorced in 1895 for her childhood sweetheart, who died, leaving Jones a widow. In 1902, Jones died in Brooklyn of tuberculosis.

Embrace the strength and individuality of these 45 traditional bearded lady tattoos:

⇑ Artist: Alex Ge

⇑ Artist: Alex Ge

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⇑ Artist: Andrew Stortz

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⇑ Artist: Ashley Love

⇑ Artist: Ashley Love

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⇑ Artist: Justin Trey Boyle

⇑ La Dolores Tattoo, Madrid, Spain

⇑ Artist: Levi Cox

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⇑ Artist: Matt Craven Evans

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⇑ Artist: Sarah Carter

⇑ Artist: Sarah Carter

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⇑ Artist: Valerie Vargas

⇑ Artist: Valerie Vargas

⇑ Artist: Vincent Meyer



Inked Artist, Graphic Designer, Senior Designer HarperCollins Publishers that toggles between NYC and NJ on a daily basis. Creator DAZZLELETS bracelets; Love to draw portraits, write, create... and take care of my dogs.


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