World's 'Ugliest Woman' Buried 153 Years Later

Julia Pastrana's body finally returned to her native Mexico

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 13, 2013 8:26 AM CST | Updated Feb 17, 2013 10:59 AM CST

(Newser) – The "world's ugliest woman" has been laid to rest—153 years after she died. Born with a genetic condition that covered her face in thick hair, Julia Pastrana was called "bear woman" by husband/manager Theodore Lent and described in an 1854 New York Times ad as the "link between mankind and the ourang-outang"; less kind papers called her "revolting in the extreme." She died six years later, at age 26, in childbirth (her hair-covered son also died), but Lent carted her embalmed body to audiences throughout Europe for decades, reports the BBC.

The story gets stranger still: Lent later married a bearded woman who he dubbed Pastrana's sister; she performed alongside the body. Pastrana's remains were stolen from a warehouse in Norway in 1976, and later found in the garbage; they were transferred to the University of Oslo, where they spent decades in storage. She finally found her way back to Mexican soil this week, thanks to a campaign Mexican artist Laura Anderson Barbata launched in 2005 to bring Pastrana home. (In other unusual burials, the only European king interred in the US has been returned to Europe.)

Julia Pastrana
Julia Pastrana   (Wikimedia Commons)
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