Bearded lady  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A bearded lady or bearded woman is a woman who has a visible beard. These women have long been a phenomenon of legend, curiosity, ridicule, and more recently, political statement and fashion statement. A small number of women are able to grow enough facial hair to have a distinct beard. In some cases, female beard growth is the result of a hormonal imbalance (usually androgen excess), or a rare genetic disorder known as hypertrichosis. Sometimes it is caused by use of anabolic steroids. Cultural pressure leads most to remove it, as it may be viewed as a social stigma. Notable exceptions were the famous (and usually fake) bearded women of the circus sideshows of the 19th and early 20th centuries, before so-called freak shows became unpopular.

In fiction

  • In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the Weird Sisters have beards, among other strange facial attributes.
  • The female dwarves in fantasy fiction are often depicted as having beards; examples include dwarves of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, and dwarfs of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
  • In the movie Dirty Work, one of the first acts of the main characters' revenge-for-hire business is to shave a bearded lady at the behest of a circus midget that she has been tormenting.
  • In the movie SpaceBalls the antagonist Dark Helmet's escape pod is stolen by a bearded lady from the three-ring circus alluded to as being on board the Spaceballs' massive ship.
  • The HBO series Carnivàle featured a bearded lady as a performer in the carnival.
  • In the Blackadder episode "Born to be King" Blackadder hires a bearded lady as part of the entertainment for the festuval, only to find that she has shaved her beard off. Baldrick is then called upon to wear a dress and wig and pose as a bearded lady.
  • The character Babara the Turkey in Strassburg opera The Rake's Progress is described as a bearded lady.
  • In Angel, females of Lorne's species, including her mother, are bearded.
  • Eleni.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bearded lady" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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