A poster depicting Julia Pastrana, who was born with a genetic condition that covered her face in thick hair. Pastrana was called "bear woman" by her husband-manager Theodore Lent. / Wikimedia Commons
(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 yesterday, 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.)
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