Roughly 150 years after her death, the “ugliest woman in the world,” a.k.a. “ape woman,” is to return to Mexico in order to receive a proper burial.
Specialists explain that Julia Pastrana, as this woman was named, suffered from a rare medical condition (i.e. congenital terminal hypertrichosis) which caused her body to be entirely covered in hair. Hence her not-so-pleasant nicknames.
Furthermore, her lips and her gums were made unusually thick by a medical condition known to the scientific community as gingival hyperplasia.
Because of her peculiar physique, the woman used to be intensely exploited by various people who owned traveling exhibitions and who made serious money by taking her with them on their journeys through Europe, the US and Canada.
Needless to say, these people took advantage of the fact that numerous individuals were more than willing to part with significant sums just to be able to catch a glimpse at the “ugliest woman in the world.”
Soon after her passing away in 1860 because of childbirth complications, Julia Pastrana ended up in a storage room at the University of Oslo, where she remained for several decades, Daily Mail
Historians say that the man who married her and who fathered her child was only interested in controlling her earnings, and that he did not shy away from embalming her body and continuing to display it at various exhibitions for several weeks after the 26-year-old woman had passed away.
However, thanks to a New York-based artist named Laura Anderson Barbata, who has taken a special interest in her story, the woman will now return to her birthplace in Mexico, where she will receive a proper burial.
“I felt she deserved the right to regain her dignity and her place in history, and in the world's memory,” said artist commented with respect to her decision to help Julia Pastrana return to Mexico.
“I hoped to help change her position as a victim to one where she can be seen in her entirety and complexity. By ending up as part of a collection in a basement, she lost any trace of dignity. My ultimate dream goal was that she should go back to Mexico and be buried,” Laura Anderson Barbata went on to add.